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

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

He believes Butler's greatest lasting legacy will be the many things he did for the community.

"He was a very humble guy and did not make a big deal about all he did — the bike path, the bridges, the state park, and most people did not realize all that he did. He was a very quiet mediator and he had the respect of state officials.”

A community mourns

Long-time resident Bobby Johnson said what he loved about Butler was that he was always so approachable. "When you spoke to him he actually listened to what you were saying. I learned from him that you can lead without being loud. He had a gentle heart and impacted our community in ways most will never comprehend. I would say that calling him a friend was an honor and a part of South Walton will never be the same."

Didon Comer said she will always remember him as the unofficial “mayor of Grayton Beach .”

Historian Hardy Jackson said "Grayton is what it is because of him,"

David Bludworth, a longtime Grayton Beach resident, said Van Ness was a guard on the Walton High School football team his father coached. "He was steady, dependable, and a team player. Van Ness will be remembered as a public servant who sought to help others and protect the environment for posterity. I can remember seeing him catching pompano when no one else seemed to be getting a bite."

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