Whidden’s Marina, “the oldest continually operating
business on Gasparilla Island,” was placed on the
National Historic Register on December 28, 2000,
on the day that would have been Sam Whidden’s
100th birthday. The Gasparilla Island Maritime Museum
opened in what was the original Red Gill Fish
House during 2001.
Today the sisters spend their days together at the
marina, again. Between them they have 12 grandchildren,
and Isabelle has two great-grandchildren.
The kids are in and out all the time. Wayne Joiner,
Matt and Charlie Coleman, and David Chatham
are all licensed captains, chartering out of
Whidden’s. The legacy of Sam Whidden lives on.
They still have the same P.O. Box 128. Isabelle
and Barbara both serve on the board of the Louise
DuPont Crowninshield Community House. Isabelle
sells the tickets and Barbara serves at the spaghetti
dinners there. At the marina, Isabelle stays busy
running the business, while Barbara keeps the
museum open “by choice” from 9 to 5, seven days
Sam Whidden’s dry sense of humor was not lost
on his girls. They tease each other all the time.
Barbara says, “Daddy liked Isabelle the best. He said
I was, ‘Come day, go day, God’s day is Sunday.’ ”
Isabelle reminds her that this year’s 13th hurricane
will be named “Isabel,” and everyone had better
watch out if it hits.
Isabelle’s warmth can be disguised behind her
cool exterior. Barbara, who easily laughs out loud
and just as easily breaks into tears, is much easier
to read. She calls Isabelle the “mean” sister, perhaps
because she is older and has always felt a greater
responsibility. But, Isabelle has a well-earned
reputation for her generosity to those who need
Jennifer Tiernay remembers her first days of living
aboard at Whidden’s. “We pulled our boat along
the dock. Although the pilings were (basically)
straight up and down … the dock rose and curved.
We lashed to the pilings and made our way up to
the house and Whidden’s marina. Sam had just
died. Isabelle was up in the store. As I look back, it
didn’t take long for us to grow to love Isabelle. Her
beautiful heart and generosity will never be forgotten.
We saw it on a daily basis. She was struggling
52 GASPARILLA ISLAND September/October 2018
Above, Isabelle with Melissa and Melissa’s son.
Below, Kacy Joiner, Leslie Joiner and Grandma
Effie with Isabella.