Gov. Chiles dies at 68
Just three weeks before he was to leave office, Gov. Lawton Chiles died suddenly of an apparent heart attack late Saturday afternoon, Dec. 12. The news quickly spread beyond Florida. From Jerusalem, President Clinton called Chiles "a statesman, a role model, and one of the most successful and respected public officials in the later half of the 20th century."
Story continues

Governor Lawton Chiles received a standing ovation when he was introduced at the gubernatorial debate in St. Petersburg in October. He died Dec. 12 in the Governor's mansion less than a month before he would have surrendered his office to successor Jeb Bush.
[Times photo: Cherie Diez]

Schedule of tributes, funeral

Subsequent coverage
Dec. 13 | Dec. 14 | Dec. 15 | Dec. 16

Walkin' Lawton
Times daily coverage

Dec. 13, 1998
Chiles leaves footprints in many parts of Florida
Lawton Chiles, his legendary walking boots on the table next to him, reminiscenced about the disappearing Florida he loved.
To the end, Chiles had plans for new career
Florida will never see another "He-Coon."
Editorial: Chiles' legacy to grow with Florida's children
Walkin' Lawton leaves big shoes to fill. . . . A true Florida original, he will be remembered as the last of his breed of colorful Cracker Democrats in an increasingly urbanized, homogenized and Republican state.
Floridians remember a man of the people
In the nation's capital, the committee debating the impeachment of the president of the United States came to a halt.
Chiles' health an issue for years
Ten days before Gov. Lawton Chiles died, child-health advocates honored him at a banquet in Orlando, a farewell for the man who had worked hard for their cause.

Dec. 14, 1998

State of mourning
[AP photo: Don Edgar]

Chiles' last journey to recall his famous first

Gov. Buddy MacKay at Sunday's press conference.

[AP photo: Mark Foley]

MacKay steps into awkward 23 days
"There's no great pleasure in this," he says of becoming Florida's 42nd governor.
His statement'

He-Coon' walked own path
We were flying over the sparkling Florida Keys during the 1990 campaign when the radio crackled in the tiny private plane.
[Tim Nickens]
A man of and for the people
It surely confounded many of today's modern, media-savvy politicians that someone whose speeches often sounded so homespun and awkward could win as many elections as Lawton Chiles did.
[Martin Dyckman]
Chiles had faith in politics and trust in the voters [Howard Troxler]
The governor's legacy
Gov. Lawton Chiles helped make Florida a better and more decent place for all of us.
Words from the heart
of a He-Coon
Funeral plans

Dec. 15, 1998

Chiles to get 200 miles of farewells
Gov. Buddy MacKay orders state offices to close Wednesday, the day of the late governor's funeral. Story

Lawton Chiles 1930-1998
mallon and pate by keeler
In the state capitol rotunda, Dee Dee Rasmussen writes a note as a memory for the family of Lawton Chiles. [AP photo: Mark Foley]

Widow stays strong in grief
Rhea Chiles' friends say Florida's first lady is reflecting on the good her husband did during his 40 years of public service.
Gov. Chiles had an enlarged heart
Why the delay in finding Chiles?
Lending Chiles a hand
I once helped Lawton Chiles out of a bind, and it will always be my fondest memory of the governor.
[Philip Gailey]
Local TV stations plan extensive funeral coverage
Center that was to be Chiles base mourns him
Hernando residents remember a man whose impact crossed party line, generations.

Dec. 16, 1998

Hundreds line roads for Chiles

Walkin' with Lawton: Marie McMurray, 72, of Century said, "This is where he started it all. And this is where he is ending it." Story [Times photo: Jonathan Newton]
Funeral schedule
Gore, MacKay to speak at funeral
TALLAHASSEE -- Vice President Al Gore will deliver a eulogy at the funeral for Gov. Lawton Chiles, and is among several national figures who will attend the service.

USF, HCC close today for day of mourning
State offices and most courts are closed today, an official day of mourning for the late Gov. Lawton Chiles.

Mother prays for girl's savior
QUINCY -- In the dirt-floor shacks and migrant labor camps that surround the county seat of rural Gadsden County, Lawton Chiles left his mark.

Famous and not-so-famous offer words of condolence

Florida's Crackers lose a kinsman
[Bill Maxwell]

rhea chiles
Widow Rhea Chiles is escorted into the Capitol building.
[Times photo: Jonathan Newton]

Chiles children embrace as their father's casket is removed from the hearse.
[Times photo: Jonathan Newton]
More photos of Lawton Chiles' final journey through Florida

Previous coverage of the death of Lawton Chiles

Gov. Lawton Chiles' flag-draped pine coffin is carried into
Faith Presbyterian Church.
[Times photo: Bill Serne]
Florida salutes Chiles
on his final walk

Lawton Chiles closed the gap between powerful politicians and ordinary Floridians one last time Wednesday.

Vice President Al Gore and other political leaders joined hundreds of residents from throughout the state at the funeral for the governor and former U.S. senator who moved easily between the halls of government and the backroads of Florida.

The two-hour service at the red-brick Faith Presbyterian Church celebrated the various sides of Chiles, from his determination to help children and fight tobacco to his love of pranks and the outdoors. The tributes by his former colleagues, friends and family members inspired a mix of laughter, applause and tears.

"...if you disappointed us at all," said Buddy MacKay, his friend and colleague who is serving out the rest of Chiles' term., "it was only that you left us too early."
The full story

rhea chiles
Family, colleagues and friends follow Chiles' casket out of the church following funeral service. [Times photo: Jonathan Newton]

Mourning with joy for a life well-lived
They took the body of Gov. Lawton Chiles out of Faith Presbyterian Church to the strains of Beethoven's Ode to Joy, that grand, final movement of his Ninth Symphony, trumpets blaring. [Lucy Morgan]

Mansion opens its doors, heart for one last goodbye

Overflow crowd bids farewell to man they admired

Continue Chiles' work for children [Editorial]

Followup stories
Bush proposes to honor Chiles
$2-billion from tobacco settlements would aid children and seniors. [1/21/99]

Lawmakers hope to mark trail of 'Walkin' Lawton'
Florida has a Buccaneer Trail, an Old Spanish Trail and a Florida Cracker Trail. Now, if two state lawmakers have their way, there will be a Lawton Chiles Trail. [1/21/99]

Chiles photo gallery
  • Lt. Gov. Buddy MacKay: a quick look at the man who will take over until Jeb Bush is sworn in.
  • Times forum: What will be Chiles' legacy in Florida? Participate in a special forum and share your thoughts.