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Betty Glassburn named Manatee’s 2012 Distinguished Citizen

PALMETTO -- Betty Glassburn was going to be at the Manatee County Fair all day Thursday anyway, buzzing from building to building in her familiar Hoveround.

There was the Manatee Southern Baptist Association booth to set up and organize in the morning. And then her grandson Dustin, whose 285-pound pig was entered in the evening’s livestock competition, would need her support.

Oh, and “Miss Betty,” as she’s better known, was also invited to the Manatee County Distinguished Citizen Award luncheon.

“My son told me Buddy Keen was going to get it,” said Glassburn, 66, referring to her cousin, a Parrish citrus grove owner. “So I had to be there.”

Little did she know.

Turned out all those folks gathered in the Bright House Networks Entertainment Tent were there for her.

Betty Lou Glassburn, a seventh-generation Manatee Countian who has done much to champion the county’s agriculture heritage and foster its traditions through 4-H and FFA, was honored as the 2012 Manatee County Distinguished Citizen.

“This is for people who came here and settled,” Glassburn said after accepting hugs and congratulations from admirers. “That’s what I work for -- to try to promote our agriculture history and ancestry as much as I can. If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be here.”

Her own family, included.

Glassburn’s ancestors came to Duette from Baxley, Ga., in 1860, to farm, raise cattle and hogs and log pine trees for turpentine and lumber. Then they moved three miles to their present property.

Glassburn’s family has lived on the same 20 acres for 127 years, raising show cattle, horses and poultry.

Thursday’s award acknowledged her love of the land and its legacy.

“It means that the old people are still represented by our family,” Glassburn said.

“It means the older generations are still here represented, thought of and loved.”

Keen was among those who reveled in her award as an acknowledgement of Glassburn’s community involvement, commitment and volunteerism.

“I like seeing somebody with old Manatee roots get it,” he said. “Somebody like her who’s been behind the scenes and doesn’t want any recognition. That’s the way she is.”

“That’s my mother,” Gene Glassburn said. “She’s always going somewhere to do something for somebody else.”

There aren’t enough hours in the day for Miss Betty.

Between functions at Dry Prairie Baptist Church, running the Mighty 4-Hers of Duette, fundraising for the Duette fire station or acting as the driving force behind Manatee County Farm City Week, Glassburn is a dynamo.

“She’s go, go, go and do, do, do,” said daughter-in-law Jennifer Glassburn.

Thursday’s award was just the latest for the honoree.

Among others through the years are:

n 1983 Florida’s Outstanding 4-H volunteer.

n 2002 Florida 4-H Hall of Fame inductee.

n 2007 Manatee County Agriculturalist of the Year.

As her mother greeted more well-wishers, Connie Chauncey beamed in approval, happy she made the drive from Ocala for the special occasion.

“I had to be here,” Glassburn’s daughter said. “She’s a remarkable lady, a strong lady. I’m glad to see her recognized.”

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7055.

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