CIHS Honors Island Historian Betty Anholt
On Monday, January 13th, the Captiva Island Historical Society celebrated the many contributions and published works of our island’s remarkable historian, Betty Anholt.
Nearly 100 guests flocked to the porch of the Captiva Island Yacht Club porch to welcome the trolley carrying Betty Anholt and her family and friends. Everyone was gathered to celebrate the first Guardian of History Award, named the Betty Anholt Guardian of History Award, in honor of its first recipient.
The event was called a HOMAGE TO HISTORY. The tone of the evening felt more like a Homage to Betty Anholt, as devoted colleagues and other friends lauded her accomplishments: a lifelong dedication to discovering and sharing the stories and cultures that have formed the Captiva and Sanibel of today.
Betty & Jim arrive by special trolley,
symbolic of thier Sanibel-Captiva trolley
Betty’s visits to the Islands began when her parents brought her to Sanibel from her home in New Jersey, as a child.
Emcee Ken Sneeden, documentary producer
and former news anchor
Later Betty and her husband Jim settled on Sanibel after their graduation from Rutgers University.
Their entrepreneurial ventures included a gas station, a bait shop, and a trolley company.
A perceptive and sympathetic listener, Betty absorbed the lore of the Islands, recounted by long-time locals.
Coupled with meticulous research, Betty amassed enough material to develop guided tours of the Islands on the trolleys. She wrote a book called The Trolley Guide to Sanibel and Captiva.
Betty's emotional thank you
Five additional books on Gulf Coastal history followed, as Betty gained experience and knowledge about the Calusas and the early settlers, cataloging objects from archaeological digs on Useppa and Pine Island, with noted Florida researcher Bill Marquardt.
Betty’s experience as a librarian at the Sanibel Library provided a valuable background for this work. One of Betty's first works was Sanibel Story, then she co-authored a book with Charles LeBuff, called Protecting Sanibel and Captiva Islands: The Conservation Story, about the history of Florida conservation.
Deb Gleason, fellow historian and head of the Sanibel
Historical Preservation Committee, congratulates Betty
Noted documentary producer and former news anchor Ken Sneeden emceed the Homage to History dinner reception. Well-known for his creation of CIHS documentary films Blind Pass: the Bridge that Connects, and Buck Key: Island of History and Mystery, Sneeden surprised Betty with a tribute video of his interviews with her colleagues, culminating with a moving tribute from her daughter, Morganna Anholt. As Ken Sneeden observed, the interviewees consistently talked about the curiosity, passion and humility of the first winner of the Betty Anholt Award.
Betty’s latest project is the publication of her first novel, Turtle Coast, not surprisingly set in the early days of Florida's Gulf Coast fishermen. MacIntosh Books has copies of the book for sale.
Betty with CIHS President, Tom Libonate
Guests included Jeff Muddell of the Sanibel-Captiva Trust Company, a presenting Sponsor of CIHS, as well as Chip Roach, Virginia Stringer and Tony Lapi from the Charitable Fund of the Islands, whose grant to the CIHS helped underwrite the tribute.
Tom Libonate, President of the CIHS Board of Directors presented the award to Betty, who then filled with tears-of-appreciation, made an emotional, brief thank you address.
The beautiful glass award presented to Betty was designed and created by Sanibel's Luc Century.
CIHS Board Co-Chairs of the event, Mary Jane Vinson and Ginny Reiss, were pleased with the appreciative crowd attending the sold-out event.