Thistle’s Sally Toughill dies Christmas Eve
One of Sanibel Island’s unique and most loyal residents died last week surrounded by family in her island home. Sally Toughill died at the age of 76. A memorial celebration of her life will be held 2 p.m. today at her Coquina Drive home.
Toughill had three husbands, two children and eight houses but, in her long and adventurous life, she had only one true home…this island.
Toughill first arrived on Sanibel as Sarah Anderson Cist, a baby in her mother’s arms — here to visit her grandparents at their estate, Thistle Lodge. She spent every winter of her childhood on the island. It was here that she learned to walk, swim, love and argue, here that her passion for the natural world first bloomed.
She went on to become a documentary filmmaker — first in Europe after World War II and then in New York and Washington. She worked for President John F. Kennedy, then his brother, Robert Kennedy. She made films about the early civil rights movement and was one of the first female television producers, holding the title of film director for the CBS documentary series, Omnibus.
Toughill left the world of politics and power in 1970 and moved to Mill Valley, Calif., where she taught junior high school, learned to sail, fell in love with the Pacific Ocean and married a fishing boat captain. She spent several years roaming the Pacific, chronicling the world of commercial fishing through film and still photographs.
Toughill returned to Sanibel for good two decades ago, buying a small house in West Rocks. True to her passion for the natural world, she decided to buy the home almost solely because a bold hawk studied her from a low tree branch during her survey of the property.
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