Life of Rhea Chiles remembered after her death

- Back in the 90s, Governor Lawton Chiles' right-hand man was actually a woman -- his wife, Rhea Chiles.

"There was nothing that my dad did on his own and that is just a fact," said Ed Chiles.

Their son recalls the two working as a team in the late 70s, when his dad laced up his boots and walked more than 1,000 miles from Pensacola to Key West.

He earned the nickname, "Walkin' Lawton" and won a seat in the Senate.

"The idea for the walk came from my mom. She was so much a part of everything. They were such an incredible team," said Ed Chiles.

When he was governor, the duo helped put a stop to tobacco campaigns aimed at kids and won a settlement against the industry.

The "Students Working Against Tobacco" campaign they created became a nation model.

After her husband's sudden death while in office, she founded the Lawton Chiles Foundation to focus on child health initiatives.

"She cared about people like dad did. The people that didn't have a voice and that is what they spoke for, that is why they thought it was so important," said Ed Chiles.

On Anna Maria Island, Rhea Chiles started an art gallery and helped form art events. Her down to earth characteristics and giving ways were traits that helped inspire others.

"She was a rare person that you don't find a lot anymore," said Commissioner Carol Whitmore.

Rhea Chiles watched Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore's political career take off.

"I just hope I am a fraction of what she was. Because I think that is what most people believe in politics, that they strive to be somebody with her dedication to the less fortunate," she said.

Anna Maria Island Mayor Dan Murphy said she was a role model for everyone.

"Rhea Chiles is and was the type of person that we would all aspire to be. She is the person that we would like to be," Murphy said.

She leaves behind a life full of inspiration for others to follow.

"Be passionate about what you do, look for ways to serve others. When you believe in something, then go after it and she did that throughout her life," said Ed Chiles. 

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