With Gov. Rick Scott cheering them on, 24 Floridians were honored in a special ceremony Wednesday night in Tallahassee -- all in celebration of Florida Heritage Month.
Among the 24 were nine who received 2011 Great Floridian Awards, some of them posthumously. They include the following:
Thomas Alva Edison, inventor, scientist and businessman, who first came to Florida in 1885 looking for the perfect material for the light bulb filament. He and his wife wintered in Fort Myers for the next 50 years.
The Honorable Bob Graham, one of the most accomplished politicians in Florida history. A state legislator, two-term governor and three-term U.S. senator, Graham had a role in nearly every major public policy issue in modern Florida.
George Washington Jenkins, founder of Publix Super Markets, Inc. Jenkins forged an organization unlike any before. He started with nothing, opened his first Publix during the Great Depression and went on to build it into a $24.3 billion Fortune 100 company with more than 1,000 stores, providing jobs to 140,000 people in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee.
The Honorable Toni Jennings, Orlando native, a two-term member of the Florida House, elected to the Senate in 1980 and served there for 20 years. During her sixth term she was chosen by her peers to serve as Florida's first, and only, two-term Senate president. Gov. Jeb Bush chose Jennings as his lieutenant governor. She served him from March 2003 until January 2007.
Governor Harrison Reed, Florida's first Republican governor and first governor after the Civil War. During his tenure, he had the challenge of trying to reinstate the state's civil government and re-stabilize the shattered financial and taxation system.
Nathaniel Pryor Reed, whose parents settled and established the town of Jupiter Island near Stuart, an environmental adviser to seven Florida governors from both political parties and an assistant secretary of the Interior under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. A lifelong crusader on behalf of the Everglades.
Marshall E. "Doc" Rinker Sr., who came to Palm Beach County in 1926 and started Rinker Rock & Sand Co. with a dump truck and a shovel. During the next four decades, Rinker expanded the business, renamed it Rinker Materials Corp. and added concrete block and cement production, and divisions for aggregate and real estate.
The Honorable Jim Smith. Recognized for his remarkable leadership skills, Jim Smith has served the state of Florida since 1968 as attorney general from 1979 to 1987, and as secretary of state from 1987 to 1995, and again in 2002 to 2003. He currently serves on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Legal Advisory Council as a pro bono legal adviser.
The Honorable Park Trammell, whose life and career embodied the growth and coming of age of Florida. As a child in Polk County he worked on the family farm and in a newspaper office, served in the Spanish-American War, practiced law in Lakeland, grew citrus and ran a newspaper. In 1903 he was elected to the Florida House, was elected attorney general in 1908 and governor in 1912.
Besides Great Floridians, other winners of 2011 Florida Heritage Awards include the following:
George Soffos of Tarpon Springs, master of the bouzouki, a distinctive Greek guitar: Folk Heritage Award.
Bob Stone, White Springs, a folklorist who has contributed to numerous projects since 1990 that have enhanced our understanding of the state's diverse folklife: Folk Heritage Award.
David Ferro, who in 1978 began work at the Florida Department of State to document, research and help plan the restoration of Florida's historic Capitol to its 1902 appearance: Secretary of State Historic Preservation Awards, 2011 Senator Bob Williams Award.
Dorothy Jenkins Fields, Ph.D., has devoted her life to increasing the awareness of South Florida's African-American history to a national level. A Miami native, Fields is responsible for the establishment of The Black Archives, History & Research Foundation of South Florida: Secretary of State Preservation Awards, 2011 Mary Call Darby Collins Award.
Jane Godown Annino: 2011 Florida Book Awards, Children's Literature
Carol Frost: 2011 Florida Book Awards, Poetry
Jose Alvarez: 2011 Florida Book Awards, Spanish Language.
William Culyer Hall: 2011 Florida Book Awards, Popular Fiction.
Mike Mustian: 2011 Florida Book Awards, General Fiction.
Christina Diaz Gonzalez: 2011 Florida Book Awards, Young Adult Literature.
Edited by Jason Steuber, Laura K. Nemmers and Tracy E. Pfaff, with a foreword by Rebecca Martin Nagy: 2011 Florida Book Awards, Visual Arts.
Margaret Ross Tolbert: 2011 Florida Book Awards, Florida Nonfiction.
Carl Hiaasen: 2011 Florida Book Awards, Lifetime Literary Achievement.
James F. Hutchinson of Stuart, whose paintings of Florida's back country, native wildlife and Seminole and Miccosukee Indian culture are held by national collectors, museums, libraries and universities and some hang in the Florida Capitol. Secretary of State Kurt Browning calls Hutchinson "an artist whose work evokes the native soul of Florida": 2011 Florida Artists Hall of Fame Inductee.
Johnny Tillotson, born in Jacksonville, grew up in Palatka. "Johnny Tillotson's career spans decades of writing and recording hit songs of American popular music that provide a well-remembered soundtrack to the lives of many Floridians," says the secretary of state. "His lifetime commitment as a sponsor and performer at benefit concerts and charity events has helped an untold number of people in this state and this country": 2011 Florida Artists Hall of Fame Inductee.
The event took place at a packed-to-overflow Heritage Hall, next to the Museum of Florida History in the R.A. Gray Building.