Rubye Walden Burton

Rubye Irene Holland was born in Georgia on January 12, 1900. She first married a man named John H. Littlefield. That union ended at some point, and Rubye then married Talmer Marion Walden.

Rubye and Talmer Walden moved to DeFuniak Springs in the early 1930s to open an automobile dealership and a gasoline distributorship. Talmer died a year later, and Rubye requested that the gasoline business be transferred to her name. The Gulf Refining Company had never had a woman dealer and refused her first request, so she had a male employee sign the papers. Her transfer request was granted sometime later, so she officially became the first woman distributor of Gulf Oil in the country.

The Gulf Oil gasoline station building (white building below) still exists on the corner of Highway 90 and 8th Street in DeFuniak Springs. During Rubye Burton’s ownership, it was managed by Andy Anderson, and Cas “Little Cas” Campbell was a mechanic. The building was expanded in the 1950s. The new addition served as an appliance store that was managed by Bob Kirby.

In 1947, Rubye married the man who was running the business, Nelson Burton, and concentrated her talents on other projects. She completed a hand-hooked rug in the 1960s by cutting beige wool into strips and hand-dyed them, thereby creating a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. At the time of its completion, it was the largest known hand-hooked rug in the country.

Rubye also became known as “The Lady of the Lake” for her constant care of the landscaping in the lakeyard, and she was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Florida Federation of Garden Club. In addition to being the DeFuniak Springs Woman of the Year in 1966, she has been named a “Woman of Light” by the DeFuniak Springs Woman’s club. She died in 2001 at the age of 101.

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