Small business owner uses his will to nurture Church's growth

Billy BobAfter more than 30 years of tending to Winter Haven's stately trees, William "Billy Bob" Morris knows that responsible stewardship today lays a foundation for tomorrow's growth - in trees, in businesses, and in the mission of the Church.

That's one reason why the 73-year old owner of "Billy Bob's Tree Service" decided to amend his will to include a gift to St. Matthew Catholic Church, the parish that has been his spiritual home for the past 15 years.

"More than anything, it's a way to help the Church continue its growth pattern down the road," said Morris, a former Episcopalian who is now a proud member of the Knights of Columbus.

Morris already had a valid will in place, but a codicil enabled him to include a gift to his parish by adding a few simple paragraphs.

"If you already have a will, this is a relatively easy and inexpensive way to make minor changes," explained the Director of Donor Relations for The Catholic Foundation of Central Florida. "You don't necessarily need to rewrite the entire will."

St. Matthew is one of 13 parishes currently working with the Catholic Foundation to conduct an intensive Planned Giving Initiative. The program includes free seminars where local professionals address questions on a variety of life-planning topics, including the importance of a valid will.

"People don't want to face this issue head on so they avoid it. But just like we pre-plan our funerals, this is something we all need to take care of," said Morris.

Parishioners who attend the seminars are under no obligation to make a gift, but Morris hopes his fellow Catholics will consider the Church when they prepare their wills.

"It's always in the back of people's minds: what will I do with this money? Sometimes people are confused about how to disburse it. If you know you're going to have some left over, there is no better avenue than the Church."

William "Billy Bob" Morris lives in Winter Haven with his wife, Elaine. They have two adult children - one son and one daughter.

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