Lawton Mainor Chiles, Jr.

Lawton Mainor Chiles, Jr.

Governor Chiles, ca.1998

41st Governor of Florida (1991-1998)

 Personal Background:

  • Born April 3, 1930-Lakeland, FL
  • Died December 12, 1998-Tallahassee, FL
  • First Lady Rhea Grafton Chiles, married in 1951, four children


  • Graduated from University of Florida, Gainesville, FL -Inducted into Hall of Fame as student
  • Graduated from University of Florida's Law School, Gainesville, FL; Blue Key Honor Society

 Service to Florida:

His political career reflected four decades of service on behalf of Floridians. Governor Chiles began as a member of the Florida House of Representatives from 1958-1966, followed by a term in the Florida Senate from 1966-1970. Prior to becoming governor, he won the first of three consecutive terms as a United States Senator in 1970, having walked 1,033 miles from one end of the Panhandle to the Florida Keys. It was during this initial, national campaign that he earned the nickname "Walkin' Lawton," which stayed with him forever. In Washington, DC, Chiles was best known for his dedication to healthy families and children. When he retired from the Senate after 18 years in 1989, he won two terms as Governor of Florida. His final day was December 12, 1998, when he died unexpectedly of a heart attack, just three weeks shy of Inauguration Day 1999.

Most Notable Contributions as Governor:

Governor & Mrs. Chiles, 1995

Among a lifetime of achievements, one of the most significant of the Chiles Administration was the Florida Kidcare Act of 1998. This legislation, built upon the Healthy Kids program, expanded healthcare coverage to over a quarter of a million Florida children. In addition, Chiles worked closely to expand prenatal and infant care services, champion child care services so families could be less dependent on government assistance, and strengthen state-wide efforts to protect children from abuse. The Lawton Chiles Endowment fund was created by the Florida Legislature in 1999 to honor Governor Chiles' memory. Funds from this endowment are derived from part of Florida's tobacco settlement money, and must be used for health and human services maintenance and research.

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