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Extraordinary Floridians

Extraordinary Floridians

Florida House Distinguished Author & Artist Awards


Brad Meltzer


Raised in Brooklyn and Miami, Brad Meltzer actually received credit at Columbia Law School for writing his first book, “The Tenth Justice.” He is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of nine other thrillers, many set in Washington, DC. There is usually a mystery to be solved, a puzzle to figure out or a shady character lurking. His core belief is that ordinary people change the world, which is why his curiosity has led him to write comic books, a children’s book series including “I Am Abraham Lincoln,” and a non-fiction collection of heroes for his son and daughter. Brad is also host of the television series “Brad Meltzer’s Lost History” and “Brad Meltzer’s Decoded” on the History Channel.


Dr. James Denham


Dr. Denham is considered one of the foremost scholars on Florida in the territorial and early statehood years. He has just simultaneously published two books, Fifty Years of Justice, a history of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, and Florida Founder William P. DuVal: Frontier Bon Vivant, the story of Florida’s early territorial governor. A native of Miami, Dr. Denham is the Department Chair and Professor of History at Florida Southern College and the Director of the Lawton M. Chiles, Jr. Center for Florida History at the college. He is a graduate of Florida State University, received the Preservationist of the Year Award for the City of Lakeland in 2005 and has authored many other books and magazine articles. According to Dr. Sarah McKay, who has known Dr. Denham for many years, he has volumes of information gathered to write a book about Lawton Chiles.


Previous Award Winners


C. Ford Riley, Artist

Randy Wayne White, Author



Jackie Brice, Artist

Arva Moore Parks, Author



Guy Harvey, Artist

Harvey Oyer III, Author



Gary R. Mormino, Ph.D., Author

E. ‘Beanie’ Backus, Artist *Deceased



Niki and Clyde Butcher, Artists

Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Author *Deceased



Christopher M. Still, Artist

Carlton W. Ward, Jr., Author



Jackson Walker, Artist



Bob Beatty, Author

The Highwaymen, Artists


Florida Icon

2015 – Pete Clemons, Okeechobee


At the Spring, 2016 Board of Trustees meeting Okeechobee native Pete Clemons was recognized as a Florida Icon.  At 16 Pete became a professional rodeo athlete, putting himself through college with his winnings.  He is a 10-time Florida rodeo champion and won the Silver Spurs Rodeo All Around Champion award eight times.  The mascot for Osceola High School’s Cowboys was based on a drawing of Pete as he went to compete in the National Jaycees Rodeo Championship in Colorado Springs.  He won the best all-around title.  At the age of 37 he retired from the rodeo to raise cattle on his Okeechobee ranch and run the Okeechobee Livestock Market.  In 2008 he was inducted into the Florida Agricultural Hall of Fame.  As one of the best known and beloved cowboys in our state, Florida House honors Pete with its first Florida Icon Award.


The 1845 Society


The 1845 Society honors and celebrates those who have shown extraordinary effort on behalf of Florida House.  This is the highest award Florida House bestows and it is not given on a regular basis.  The honoree is given the Louise Lykes Ferguson Medal, named after one of our founding Trustees and shown here with Founder Rhea Chiles.


Society Members:

2016      Grace and Bill Nelson

2013      Emilie and Clay Shaw

2011      Gus Stavros

2009     Eileen and Loyd Kelly

2008     Snead Davis

2007     Elizabeth Lindsay

2006     Sarah McKay

2004     Adele and Bob Graham

2003     Rhea Chiles


The Rhea Chiles Vision Award


The Rhea Chiles Vision Award is giving to a Floridian who has given extraordinary service to Florida House, its mission, vitality and stability; to someone whose involvement moved the organization toward expansion, soundness or increased stature.  Nominations are only accepted from Florida House trustees.


Vision Award Recipients:

Patrick Geraghty

Mike Hightower

Emilie and Clay Shaw

Patsy Woodroffe

Sandy Thomas

Deanna Kirchman


The Chairman’s Award

Given by the Chairman of the Board of Trustees for exceptional service.

2014     The Risi Family



The Florida House Education Award

Recognizing outstanding achievement in education, a core value in the Florida House mission.

2014     Sarah McKay