Remarkable Women of Sanibel and Captiva

Writing my new book, “Remarkable Women of Sanibel and Captiva,” was a labor of love. Having lived on Sanibel for the past thirty-six years, I was fortunate to have met, or interviewed, some of these women. As a history buff, I am delighted to be part of the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village for the last seventeen years. That’s where I got the idea to write this book and my previous one, “Historic Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Tales of Paradise.”

Sanibel Historical Museum
(Shown Above: Sanibel Historical Museum)

One of the first women I met after arriving on Sanibel was Lavern Phillips. At that time she was doing the programs for a newly formed group on the island called Barrier Island Group for the Arts (BIG ARTS.) Without a building of their own, we met in the Sanibel Community House. Lavern was leading a discussion group about some of the great novels of the past. Her winning smile and zest for life drew me to her immediately. A few years later, after learning that I knew how to use a computer, she asked me to handle a juried art show, one of her latest program additions.

Fay Granberry approached me one day at a meeting of a local women’s group. She was looking for younger women, it was the early eighties, to get involved in the Orchid Society. I told her I had a black thumb and didn’t think I’d be a credit to her group. A few years later, in the early 1990s, an editor for a local paper asked me to interview some women in the area whom I thought were typical of the ‘90s. I thought immediately of Fay. That’s when I learned about all her other interests, from Revlon model to architect!

I was delivering for a florist on the island in the 1980s during the Christmas holidays, when Helene Gralnick walked into the shop. She and her husband had returned from Mexico where they had started a small cotton dress business and wanted to find a place to display and sell their products. The owners of the florist were happy to allow them to display their wares. It was so lucrative that they leased a small store on the island, named it CHICO’s, and the rest is history.

One day, while acting as docent at the historical museum, I came across a book, “Courageous Journey,” It was the Civil War story of Laetitia Nutt, the first postmaster and school teacher on Sanibel. Laetitia was a beautiful southern lady who followed her husband, a Louisiana Ranger, for two years from battle to battle. When the fighting subsided, she’d entertain men like Robert E. Lee in her private rooms. She and her daughters typified the strong stuff women needed to survive on Sanibel.

(Shown Above: Laetitia Nutt)

No book would have been complete without including Esperanza Woodring. I met her through a friend, and was fascinated by her tales of the island. Her grandfather had been one of the original Cuban fishing guides, and he and her husband had taught her how to fish. When her husband died, leaving her with two small sons to support, she fished to live. She also knew how to handle a shot gun!

These women are just a few of the fifty-three women I feature in this book. I found them all an inspiration.

To purchase this book, click here.