Rhea Chiles was born on December 1, 1930, and died on November 8, 2015.
She was First Lady of the State of Florida from 1991 to 1998 during the tenure of her husband, the Governor Lawton Chiles.
In 2009, Rhea was designated a Distinguished Floridian by the Florida Economic Club at an event hosted by former Florida Supreme Court Justice Major B. Harding and keynoted by former United States Senator Sam Nunn.
Rhea was educated in Dade County public schools and at the University of Florida.
While attending the University of Florida, she was a member of The Florida Alligator student newspaper staff and served as president the Alpha Delta Pi Sorority.
In 1998, Rhea founded The Lawton Chiles Foundation, which carries on the commitment of her husband to benefit the lives of children in Florida.
Over the next decade, Rhea developed and managed The Studio at Gulf and Pine, a community cultural center in Anna Maria, Florida.
Rhea Chiles was an accomplished artist. Her watercolour, “Window to Washington,” which depicts the view of the Capitol from the upstairs window of the Florida House on Capitol Hill, is considered the “artistic signature” of Florida House.
Governor Lawton Chiles established the “Heartland Award for Public Service,” which was presented by the Governor to Floridians who were found to exemplify long-term commitment and service to their communities.
Recipients of the Heartland Award received a painting, “Heartland,” depicting the Myakka River in southwest Florida by Rhea Chiles.
In 1997, Rhea, the First Lady of Florida, published “700 North Adams Street,” a 144-page illustrated history that explores the architecture, interiors, and gardens of the Florida Governor’s Mansion; the history of the original 1907 Mansion; and the personal lives and culture of the families who lived in the original Mansion and the one built-in 1955.
Rhea passed away from a lengthy illness at her home in Anna Maria Islands, Florida at the age of 84.