Senate honors President Gaetz during traditional portrait unveiling

May 6 • 948 Views • View Comments

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Tallahassee, FL — The official portrait of Senate President Don Gaetz (R-Niceville) was unveiled today at 11:00 a.m. EDT during a ceremony attended by Mrs. Vicky Gaetz, the president’s wife of more than 30 years, and the couple’s children, State Representative Matt Gaetz (R-Shalimar) and Erin Gaetz, a senior producer with Fox News in New York. The Gaetz family was joined by extended family as well as Lt. Governor Lopez-Cantera, House Speaker Will Weatherford (R-Wesley Chapel), members of the Florida Cabinet and many friends from Northwest Florida.

President Gaetz is the 85th Senate President since statehood. Under current practice, his portrait will hang in the Senate Chamber for 100 years and will then be retired to the Historic Capitol and eventually to the state archives.

President Gaetz’s portrait was created by the artist Jie Ruan of Leon Loard Commissioned Portraits. Artists from Leon Loard also crafted the portraits of Senate Presidents Jennings, King, Lee, Pruitt and Atwater.

The background of President Gaetz’s portrait contains the flags of the States of Florida and North Dakota, the state of his birth. The President’s father Jerry Gaetz served in local government in North Dakota. He was elected to the North Dakota State Senate a short time before his death at the North Dakota Republican Convention of 1964, during which he was to be nominated as the Republican candidate for Lt. Governor. The North Dakota flag in the President’s portrait was displayed in his father’s mayoral office in Rugby, North Dakota, and has been displayed in every office occupied by President Gaetz during his time in public service.

President Gaetz is wearing a lapel pin originally commissioned by Winston Churchill. The pin is made of melted shell casings and bears the sign “V” for Victory, signifying the Allied victory in World War II. President Gaetz is holding the first bill passed during his term as Senate President , a comprehensive ethics reform package unanimously passed by the Senate on the Opening Day of the 2013 Legislative Session.

As President Gaetz’s portrait is hung in the Senate Chamber, the Senate will retire the portrait of the 34th Senate President, Edgar Davis of Madison. President Davis served as the Senate President during the 1915 Legislative Session, a time when the Legislature convened every other year.

President Davis’ son W. Turner Davis served as the Senate President in 1955. They are the only father and son in state history to have each served as Senate President. President Davis’ descendants escorted his portrait to the historic capitol alongside the Senate Sergeants at Arms, Donald Severance, who will officially retire President Davis’ portrait.

In keeping with longstanding Senate traditional, President Gaetz’s colleagues honored him with a special gift to commemorate his time as Senate President. The Senators gave President Gaetz an original letter then-Prime Minister Winston Churchill sent to his friend Nobel Prize-winner and then-President of Columbia University, Nicholas Murray Butler, of his inability to commit to travel because of the war clouding over Europe. Churchill wrote, “Everything is so uncertain… and the powers of evil are so strong.” The typed letter is dated September 8, 1937.

Following today’s ceremony, attendees joined the Gaetz Family for a luncheon reception on the 22nd Floor of Florida’s Capitol. President Gaetz will conclude his term as Senate President in November 2014. He will continue to serve in the Florida Senate until the conclusion of his four-year term in November 2016.


For more information about this or any other issue, please contact Senator Don Gaetz, by e-mail at, by letter, 4300 Legendary Drive, Suite 230, Destin, FL 32541 or call 1-866-450-4DON toll free from anywhere in Florida.


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