Obituaries – 07-29-2020

Islander reporter Sandy Ambrogi dies at 66


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 Charlotte, North 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.


Richard W. Carter

Richard Carter, former Bradenton Beach city attorney and a city justice, at work in 1977.

Richard W. Carter of Bradenton died July 18. He had lived in Bradenton Beach most of his life until last August.

He proudly continued a family line of Freemasons and belonged to Manatee Masonic Lodge #31.

He was a former city attorney and city judge in Bradenton Beach and an early legal aid attorney, as well as maintained a private practice.

Along with his wife, he was active in many island groups and school promotions in the 50 years they lived in Bradenton Beach.

He often joked that he must have cooked a record number of hot dogs for the Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce, Anna Maria Elementary School, Bayshore Honeybears and the Democratic Party.

He supported affordable housing as president of the Manatee County Housing Authority for many years. He also advocated for animals through the Manatee County Animal Advisory Committee, as well as through his law practice.

Although he lived on the island most of his life, he never lost his love for Akron, Ohio, East High School and his college years at Kent State, where he met his wife of 59 years.

He taught high school in Norton, Ohio, before earning a law degree as a full-time student at the University of Akron while working full time for the city of Akron Planning Department.

His cats were his joy during the last years.

The family remembers him as a history buff and old-time music lover and his ballroom dance partners will miss his unflagging energy on the dance floor.

Memorials may be made to Wildlife Inc., P.O. Box 1449, Anna Maria, FL 34216. Apostle Funeral Home is handling arrangements. The coronavirus prevents services at this time.

The Carters are a close-knit family and are a blessing and privilege all should enjoy.

Mr. Carter is survived by his wife, Gale; daughters Amanda Carter Came and husband Joe and Phaedra Carter Dolan and husband Chris, grandchildren Cameron Carter Frazier and wife Mary Elizabeth, Anna Rehorn and Liam Rehorn; step-grandchildren Jesika and Jakub Dolan; sister Deloris Carden and husband James; and nieces and nephews Carden, Bennett, Stephenson and Nance.


Gary Tibbetts


Gary Tibbetts, 66, of Ellenton, longtime aide to U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, died July 22 due to COVID-19 complications.

​Mr. Tibbetts, who began working for Buchanan in 2011, died at Manatee Memorial Hospital in Bradenton. He was the first Capital Hill aide to die of the coronavirus, according to The Associated Press.

​“Gary was the consummate professional and a true public servant in every sense of the word,” Buchanan said in a statement from his office. “He touched so many loves and was loved and respected by those who knew him.”

​Mr. Tibbetts held many forums on Anna Maria Island over the years to meet constituents and hear their concerns, compliments and issues.

​The Holmes Beach Police Department also issued a statement, which read in part, “Gary was a huge supporter of law enforcement and the Holmes Beach Police Department. He had dedicated much of his life to serving the community.”

​“He was retired law enforcement,” Bradenton Mayor Wayne Poston said in a statement. “And he was a great friend to that community as well. I am deeply saddened and will miss him personally as well as professionally.”

​Mr. Tibbetts had worked for the Manchester (New Hampshire) Police Department for 22 years.

​A visitation will be held 4-7 p.m. Friday, July 31, at Brown & Sons Funeral Homes & Crematory 43rd Street Chapel, 604 43rd St. W., Bradenton. A celebration of life will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 1, at The Bridge Church, 4000 75th St. W., Bradenton. Memorial donations may be made to the Bishop Museum of Science & Nature, 201 10th St. W., Bradenton, FL 34205, or Selah Freedom, P.O. Box 21415, Sarasota, FL 34276, or online at Condolences may be made to

​He is survived by his wife, Valerie; sons, Cody and wife Heather of Englewood, Ohio, David and wife Malore of Jacksonville, North Carolina, and Josh of Ellenton; brother Don and wife Sam of Orlando; daughter Kim Vaillancourt of Manchester, New Hampshire; Kim's daughters/goddaughters, Colbi and Berklee; daughter Kelly Tibbetts-Cote and husband Gary of Manchester; and Kelly's sons, Logan and Griffin. Survivors also include brother-in-heart Bobby Gurskis and wife Lauren of Bradenton Beach; son Bo Gurskis; sister Amy Wilkenson and husband Steve of Corpus Christi, Texas; son, Michael Wilkenson and wife Martelle; daughter Sara Shima and husband Matthew; sister Cindy McNally and husband Brian of Derry, New Hampshire; daughters, Brittany and Brenna; sister-in-law Diana Lavey and husband Dan; brother-in-law James Wesley and wife Regina; and grandchildren, Hailey, Carter Ben, Mika-Rynn and Sabella'Kai.

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