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Posted on: September 7, 2023

City to recognize Kay Burtin with Order of La Florida Award

Headshot of Kay Huppi Burtin, 2023 Order of La Florida Award recipient

Presentation ceremony set for Monday, September 11 at 4:30pm

On Monday, September 11, 2023, at 4:30pm in The Alcazar Room of City Hall, the City of St. Augustine City Commission will recognize Kay Hϋppi Burtin, presenting her with the city’s highest honor, the Order of La Florida, for her years of selfless service to the community, and in particular for her years of work with the St. Augustine Art Association (STAAA).

In 1972, Burtin came to St. Augustine with her family where she worked for Southern Bell and took on the role of President of STAAA.  She was married to artist and illustrator Vernon F. Hϋppi, and while raising three sons, continued her interest in and involvement with art. 

In 1989, with STAAA in financial straits and the building in severe disrepair, Burtin was hired as the association’s administrator, for a meager salary and the overwhelming responsibility to keep it running.  It wasn’t until 1998 when the Association started operating what was then named the Colonial Arts and Crafts Fair that things began to turn around.  It later would become the St. Augustine Arts and Crafts Festival.

Burtin was instrumental in establishing the association’s permanent collection of art pieces, which now stands at over 500, she created the STAAA newsletter, and with the help of her husband, Vernon Hϋppi, co-founded a Monday night sketch group with Enzo Torcoletti and Dr. William Gibson.


With the financial support of her generous sister and brother-in-law, Faith and Joseph Tiberio, and the assistance of her mother, Marguerita Phillips, Burtin led the development of what now stand as the North and South Wings of the association’s building, which are dedicated respectively to Phillips and the Tiberios.

Without the vision of Burtin to create a vibrant community art center, the STAAA would not be the historically significant institution that it is today, nor would there be a First Friday Art Walk.  Her years of service not only include her role as the association’s administrator, but over the years she also served on the Board of Directors, and held the offices of President, Vice President, Secretary, and Treasurer.

The late Dr. Robert Ellert once remarked, “I can only say that she was the life’s blood. She was the one who kept the Art Association together through the years.”

Burtin is now retired but remains active as a Member of the Board of Directors, Docent Coordinator, historian, and is tireless in her efforts to help out whenever needed, generously giving of her time, talents and personal treasures.

Outside of STAAA, Burtin was among the small group of music lovers who started the EMMA Concert Series.  She is a member of the Pilot Club of St. Augustine, the Daughters of the American Revolution, Mariah Jefferson Chapter, the St. Augustine Historical Society, and the St. Augustine Archaeological Society.  Burtin also has served on the Tourist Development Council, the Visitors and Convention Bureau, and the Art Galleries of St. Augustine.

The City of St. Augustine established The Order of La Florida Award in 1975, so that the City Commission, on behalf of the people of St. Augustine might recognize one who, “…over a long period of time has unselfishly devoted his or her time and talent to the welfare and betterment of St. Augustine’s citizens and heritage, who has exemplified the finest qualities of citizenship, and has contributed extraordinary services to the community.”  Recipients must be 55 years of age and there may not be more than 10 living recipients at any one time.  A nomination originates with a member of the city commission and is presented to the city manager who then puts it before the entire commission for confirmation.  This year, Mayor Nancy Sikes-Kline nominated Ms. Kay Hϋppi Burtin.

For media inquiries, contact Melissa Wissel, Communications Director, at 904.293.3307.

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