The City of St Augustine announced to Historic City News today that long time civil rights activist, Dr. Robert B. Hayling, will be presented with the city’s highest and most prestigious award, the Order of la Florida, by members of the city commission on July 2; in conjunction with the 40th ACCORD’s Seventh Annual Freedom Trail Luncheon.
The Order of la Florida was created in 1975 by the St Augustine City Commission, to “acknowledge, recognize and honor persons who have distinguished themselves by unselfishly devoting their time and talents to the betterment and welfare of our citizens and our heritage, and who have, over a long period of time, contributed extraordinary services to our community.”
On January 28, 2013, for the first time since Adjutant General Henry W McMillan was selected to be recognized with the City of St Augustine Order of La Florida award, the public witnessed the politics of bestowing civic awards during that evening’s City Commission meeting.
The enabling legislation that created the Award was enacted on May 12, 1975 under the administration of Mayor Art Runk. The resolution, introduced by Commissioner Colonel Bob Barclay, said that membership in the order be “limited to eight (8) living persons at any one time”. Another requirement of the Award is that the recipient must receive approval of every member on the commission.
One of those past recipients, Jerry Kass, passed away on Tuesday, November 13, 2012 at the Bailey Family Center for Caring, creating the potential for an additional nominee. Before year-end, there were two nominations for the award — former commissioner Bill Leary nominated Herbie L. Wiles and Vice-Mayor Nancy Sikes-Kline nominated Dr. Hayling.
The commission has voted to present the Award on just 18 other occasions. Hayling was previously honored with the de Avilés Award in July 2011; he is the only person ever to receive both the de Avilés Award and the Order of la Florida Award — the two highest honors bestowed by the City of St Augustine.
After some anxious moments, the final solution was to expand the number of living award recipients, so that both men could be received into the Order of La Florida. Wiles received his Award during the regular city commission meeting on Monday, April 22, 2013.
The living members of the City of St Augustine Order of La Florida award are:
John D. Bailey
Edward G. Mussallem
William L. Proctor
Frank and Betty Usina
Herbie L. Wiles
Dr. Robert B. Hayling