Islander reporter Sandy Ambrogi dies at 66

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Sandra “Sandy” Elizabeth (Sneed) Ambrogi, 66, of Bradenton, died July 22 at Bristol Regional Medical Center in Bristol, Tennessee.

She was born Feb. 2, 1954, to Jackson and Margie (Jones) Sneed in Charleston, South Carolina.

She was a 1972 graduate of Brainerd High School in Chattanooga and the University of Tennessee in 1975 with a degree in English and journalism. She enjoyed writing and was editor of the university’s literary magazine in 1974.

She came to The Islander through an email in February 2016, selling her bright and lively outlook in a pitch for a job.

She quickly won over the teachers and staff at Anna Maria Elementary School on her first assignment — and she loved it.

“She loved the kids, and she left the beat at the school most reluctantly when the time came,” said Islander publisher Bonner Joy.

She went where she was needed, and put her special touch on business news, chamber happenings and the outbreak of red tide in late 2018.

“She endeared people wherever she turned — including myself and the staff,” Joy said.

Her love for people shined in her smile and flowed like molasses in her Southern accent.

“I’ve lost a very good — the best kind of friend,” Joy said.

We were sorry when she made the move to Bristol in May to be near her daughter, but she kept in touch, writing for the newspaper from her home there.

Prior to moving to Bradenton in 2015, Ms. Ambrogi and her late husband, Walter, owned and operated Ambrosia Catering in Nashville, Tennessee, for 25 years. The family referred to them as “the caterers to the stars.”

The couple shared a great love for animals, especially horses, and raised their children on a horse farm in Nolensville, Tennessee.

She loved traveling the world on cruise ships with some of her best friends.

Her love of the Florida beaches and sunsets, manatees, and Jimmy Buffett music led her in 2015 to Manatee County and Anna Maria Island, where her family had vacationed when she was a child.

Ms. Ambrogi renewed her passion as a news reporter on Anna Maria Island with The Islander newspaper, where she covered the local chamber of commerce and business happenings, features and environmental news, including the red tide outbreak in 2018-19. She was much admired by other journalists and co-workers as a friend and a supporter of good causes.

“She was a natural storyteller and a natural islander,” said editor Lisa Neff. “She also was a wonderful friend. We might have printed blank pages this week to show the hole she leaves.”

She adored her two young grandsons and looked forward to regular Facetime calls and their visits to her “Sandy Beach” on Anna Maria Island.

The family plans to hold a memorial service at a later date in Nashville. Those wishing to share memories or condolences and send “Hugs from Home” may do so by visiting and signing the online guest register. Memorial contributions may be made to Save the Manatee Club, 500 N. Maitland, FL 32751, or

She is survived by her brother Alan Sneed and wife Brookley; son Michael; daughter Maria Weldon and husband Prescott and their children, her grandsons Jack and John.