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Community Spotlight

Allen and Kaye Butler named 2024 Distinguished Citizens of the Year

Bradenton couple with business acumen spearheaded multi-million dollar fundraisers for local church, non-profits


PALMETTO – Allen and Kaye Butler are Manatee County’s 2024 Citizens of the Year. The couple's tireless work resulted in them being named the 2024 Distinguished Citizens of the Year by the Manatee River Fair Association.

More than a dozen local residents wrote letters of support for the Butlers, each remarking on the longtime Bradenton couple's extensive contributions to the community – particularly children’s causes – over the past 40 years. Those letters emphasized the Butlers' commitment to numerous causes, their humility, and their dedication to improving local lives, especially for the less fortunate.

Some of their most noteworthy involvement was spearheading multi-million dollar fundraising projects for the Boys & Girls Club, a St. Stephen's School endowment fund, and renovations for their beloved First Presbyterian Church. Allen was instrumental in preparing the sale of the Bradenton Trailer Park, proceeds from which went to form the Kiwanis Foundation. He was also involved in selling the Palmetto Pines Golf Club, proceeds from which funded the Palmetto Boys and Girls Club.

“Many will donate time and money, but this couple has taken it a step further and invested their efforts in endowing and building financial structures that will benefit these organizations well into the future,” said Manatee River Fair Association Treasurer Jon Neuhauser, who presented the award to the Butlers today in Veterans Hall at the Manatee County Fairgrounds. The crowd of more than 200 gave the couple a standing ovation.

“Kaye and Allen are a ‘salt of the earth’ couple who work hard, attend church, celebrate their family and give back to the community on a sustained basis,” wrote prominent Bradenton leader and attorney Cliff Walters. “While understated in demeanor, their drive to sustain their family and our community is demonstrated on a continued basis.”

“It has been a pleasure to be here in Manatee County,” said Kaye upon receiving the award. She grew up on a farm in Virginia only eight miles from Blacksburg, Va. where the Future Farmers of America was founded. “This is an amazing honor and very much a surprise.”

Nominators praised Kaye's organizational skills and leadership in supporting capital campaigns for Saint Stephen's Episcopal School which raised more than $6.3 million that would later fund land and expansion projects at the school.

“Her leadership qualities are impeccable,” wrote Tina Rood Crawford, who served with Kaye on the Entre Nous advisory board.

Allen was commended for his leadership with the Kiwanis Club of Bradenton, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Manatee County, and the First Presbyterian Church of Bradenton. His financial and investment management skills led to substantial savings and growth for community projects.

“There are thousands of people who helped make these things happen,” Allen said of the couple’s success with fundraising. “We’re just representative of those people who give their time and treasure to make things happen to benefit the county. The Boys and Girls Club and Kiwanis are great clubs that are a vehicle for good and that can be used to expand our own personal talents.”

The Manatee County Distinguished Citizen Award is presented annually by the Manatee River Fair Association members in cooperation with the Manatee County Board of County Commissioners. The award recognizes individuals who have “made significant and meritorious contributions to Manatee County in the way of volunteer community service.”


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