By Roger McKinney
GRANBY, Mo. —
An inventory of Shirley Stouffer’s collection of Precious Moments figurines began last week. It is likely to continue for some time.
Stouffer’s son, Jon Stouffer, donated his late mother’s collection of Precious Moments figurines — estimated at about 2,000 pieces — to the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks.
Stouffer said his mother, who died of heart problems in 2007 at age 67, was a breast cancer survivor.
Shirley Stouffer’s breast cancer was diagnosed in 1992. She underwent mastectomies, chemotherapy and radiation to eliminate the cancer from her body. Stouffer believes the treatments may have weakened his mother’s heart and possibly contributed to her death 15 years later.
One of the Granby woman’s passions was collecting Precious Moments figurines, which she began doing in 1985 or 1986.
“She was really big into it,” Jon said of his mother. “She went to a lot of collectors’ group meetings and trips.”
Illustrator Sam Butcher began marketing the figurines in 1978. In 1989, the Precious Moments Inspiration Park and Precious Moments Chapel opened in Carthage and the company moved its headquarters to Carthage.
“I went to a lot of events with her,” recalled Jon, who also is of Granby.
“They’re going to a good cause,” Jon said of the childlike angel figures. “She would be pleased that they’re going to help somebody.”
At its peak, he estimated his mother may have had as many as 4,000 figurines, and although her collection is half that now, it could still be worth at least $100,000, and possibly several hundred thousand dollars, said Steve Roark, a board member with the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks.
Roark was assisting with the inventory last week and said that when it is complete, staff members will input the description of each piece into a database that determines market value. That will give the foundation an idea of the range of prices it may ask when marketing the figurines.
He said the foundation then would look at the best ways to market the figurines, which may include some large, national auction houses.
“We will take our time and do our due diligence as to the best way to market them,” said Kristi Seibert, outreach director for the foundation.
Seibert, who also was assisting with the inventory, said Shirley Stouffer’s collection must be one of the largest collections of Precious Moments figurines.
“I have a very small Precious Moments collection and every piece has a meaning to me,” Seibert said. “When I learned about this, I thought, ‘I’m going to be handling another woman’s collection, something she loved so much.’ And her family has entrusted us with this gift.”
Seibert also said the foundation is extremely grateful for the gift.
“I’m a survivor myself,” she said. “It’s amazing.”
She also said many of the figurines come with documentation or personal letters from Butcher.
“You can tell that Mrs. Stouffer had a personal friendship with Sam Butcher,” she said.
The Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks provides a variety of services, including short-term, non-medical financial assistance to women diagnosed with breast cancer. It can be for items such as rent or mortgage payments, car payments or car insurance and money for utility bills. The foundation also offers free screening mammograms for qualified applicants at hospitals throughout the region.
There also is a children’s fund, which provides for items including clothing, school supplies, birthday gifts and child care for children in families affected by breast cancer.
The foundation serves 31 area counties.
“Shirley’s beautiful collection is going to help bring hope to family in our area for many, many years to come,” Seibert said. “It’s a huge gift.”
Learn more about the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks online at bcfo.org. The phone number is 417-862-3838 or 1-866-874-1915.