This annual hospitality award was established in 2003 by the Walton County Tourism Department (WCTD) to encourage and recognize excellence in hospitality service, travel/tourism marketing, advertising, promotion, and contributions to the local community.

The award honors the legacy of service embodied by the Van Ness Butler family who acquired the land now known as Grayton Beach in 1922. The Butler family built the Grayton Beach Hotel and through their family's passion, determination, and energy set the stage for the developing tourism industry.

Following his grandfather's legacy, Van Ness Butler, Jr. served as the first chairman of the Walton County TDC, as interim executive director for two years and on the Tourist Development Council for more than 13 years. This award also honors the Florida Tourism Hall of Fame inductees and pioneers of Walton County's hospitality and tourism industries.  

Nominees for the Van Ness Butler Jr., Hospitality Award are judged and awarded for their lifetime body of work, based on their initiative and innovation in achieving organizational success, and for their work with community businesses or organizations to enhance Walton County's local, national or international standing as a travel destination.

“This is a great opportunity for our hospitality and tourism partners to honor an individual who has been a driving force in improving the destination experience and standing in the travel industry,” said Walton County Tourism Communications Director Nicole Everett. “Especially in the case of the Van Ness Butler, Jr. Hospitality Award, we encourage our partners to help us tell the stories of the people who make Walton County such an exceptional place to visit.”

Please contact Lisa Foster, industry relations specialist, at or (850) 333-2728 if you have any questions about the Van Ness Butler Jr. Hospitality Award program. 


  • 2022: Dave Rauschkolb

  • 2020: Jim Shirley

  • 2019: Tracy Louthain 

  • 2017: Lino Maldonado

  • 2016: Jennifer Steele

  • 2015: Mike Ragsdale

  • 2014: Jeanne Dailey

  • 2013: Malcolm Patterson

  • 2012: MC Davis

  • 2011: Michael Adkinson

  • 2010: Keith Howard

  • 2009: Walton County Commissioners (Scott Brannon, Sara Comander, Larry Jones, Cecilia Jones, Kenneth Pridgen)

  • 2008: Johnny Earles

  • 2007: Pat Potter

  • 2006: Robert Davis

  • 2005: Don McQuade

  • 2004: Joann Saucier

  • 2003: Van Ness Butler Jr.