South Walton loses its visionary with the passing of Van Ness Butler, Jr.

Published: Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 09:55 PM.

Another goal Patterson was entrusted with was acquisition of all property along the beach that did not already belong to the county for dune walkovers and beach accesses. One of the beach accesses, located between Seaside and WaterColor, is named for Butler .

"He was a friend first, but also a visionary,” said Patterson.  “Through direction from Van Ness we put garbage collection bags on the beach and we hired beach maintenance staff."

In addition, Patterson credits Butler with securing grants to build the bike paths along 30A.

"That was totally his vision and probably his most significant one," he said.

Butler was also instrumental in helping secure and develop the corner of U.S. Highways 98 and 331 for TDC offices.  He also served as a Walton County Commissioner for one term and on the TDC board for several years.

As Patterson looks back on the life of his friend, he said if only one word could be used to describe Van Ness Butler it would be "visionary."

"He could see things no one else could see," said Patterson. "He had intimate knowledge of the county that few people had. He was a friend, an advisor, a counselor to those of us who knew him. The county lost someone who knew more about the county and more people in the county than anyone. He remembered names. I relied on him.”

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