Terry Tomalin, Journalist and Brother of Susan Sarandon, Dies at 55

Screengrab/Tampa Bay Times
Terry Tomalin

The respected outdoors editor of the Tampa Bay Times newspaper suffered a heart attack.

Terry Tomalin, the brother of actress Susan Sarandon and the outdoors editor of the Tampa Bay Times for more than 25 years, died Thursday after suffering a heart attack. He was 55.

Tomalin was taking a life guard test with his 14-year-old son Kai at the North Shore Aquatic Center in St. Petersburg, Fla., when he collapsed. He never regained consciousness, his family told the newspaper.

"We are devastated," said his wife, St. Petersburg Deputy Mayor Kanika Tomalin. She married Tomalin in 1999.

“Thank you to everyone who reached out with love at the passing of my brother Terry Tomalin," Sarandon wrote on Facebook. "I will pass on your prayers to his wife and family."

The Oscar-winning Sarandon, 69, was the eldest of nine children in their Irish-Italian family, and Tomalin was the second-youngest. They were raised in Edison, N.J., and their father, Phillip Leslie Tomalin, was an executive for the legendary marketing firm Ogilvy & Mather in New York City. “He was one of the original Mad Men,” Tomalin once said.

The newspaper described Tomalin as "a well known outdoorsman across the state. Boat captains respected him, both for his fearlessness and generous spirit. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of all things Florida."

"He joked that he could get through life without ever putting on a pair of long pants," former deputy managing editor for sports Jack Sheppard said in the Times story. "He smelled like he got up at 4 a.m. and went fishing before work, which he did."

 

Tomalin graduated from the University of South Florida in 1983 and worked at the Daily Commercial newspaper in Leesburg, Fla., and then as an investigative reporter for The Ledger in Lakeland, Fla.

He joined the Times as a police reporter in 1986 but soon left the paper to backpack through New Zealand. He was named the Times' outdoors writer when he returned.

Tomalin helped found the annual Tampa Bay Frogman Swim, which has raised more than $1 million for the Navy SEAL Foundation since its inception in 2010.

"Terry personified what it meant to be part of a community," Times Editor Neil Brown said in a statement. "You think of Terry and you think of his stories about the beauty of being alive and taking advantage of living around Tampa Bay. You think of his volunteer work in the community or you think of him routinely taking 40 kids camping. I can't imagine that I've ever been around a more giving, energetic, can-do man."

Also among Tomalin's survivors is his 12-year-old daughter, Nia.

 

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