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Lane DeGregory, Times Staff Writer

Lane DeGregory

Lane DeGregory is a Pulitzer Prize-winning Tampa Bay Times feature writer who prefers writing about people in the shadows. She went to work with a 100-year-old man who still swept out a seafood warehouse, hung out beneath a bridge with a colony of sex offenders, followed a feral child who was adopted.

Lane graduated from the University of Virginia, where she was editor in chief of the Cavalier Daily student newspaper. Later, she earned a master's degree in rhetoric and communication studies from the University of Virginia.

For 10 years, she wrote news and feature stories for the Virginian-Pilot, based in Norfolk, Va. In 2000, Lane moved to Florida to write for the Times. She's married to a drummer, Dan DeGregory, and they have two teenage sons, Ryland and Tucker.

Lane's stories have appeared in the Best Newspaper Writing editions of 2000, 2004, 2006 and 2008. She has taught journalism at the University of South Florida - St. Petersburg, been a speaker at the Nieman Narrative Conference at Harvard University and has won dozens of national awards, including the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing.

Other awards include:

2014: Finalist, American Society of Newspaper Editors Batten Medal for portfolio.

2012: Finalist, American Society of Newspaper Editors Award for nondeadline writing.

2011: Inducted as a Fellow with the Society of Professional Journalists for lifetime achievement.

2010: Winner, American Society of Newspaper Editors Batten Medal for portfolio.

2009: Winner, National Headliner Award for feature writing.

2008: Winner, American Society of Newspaper Editors Award for nondeadline writing.

2007: Winner, Ernie Pyle Award from the Scripps Howard Foundation for human interest writing.

Phone: (727) 893-8825

Email: degregory@tampabay.com

Twitter: @LaneDeGregory

Phone: (727) 893-8825

Email: degregory@tampabay.com

Twitter: @LaneDeGregory

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  1. Friends, strangers, young and old rally raucously for the Bolts

    Features

    TAMPA

    He hoped someone would pick him up from the bus station. After riding almost five hours from Miami, he pressed his face against the window, searching for a friend or stranger.

    His high school buddy, Sean, had to set up the tailgate party. Michael, who was letting him crash at his place, was at a funeral. Michael's wife wasn't allowed to come to the games. She was bad luck.

    So Mason Bradford, 24, had posted a plea on the fan club's Facebook page, asking for a ride from the Tampa bus station to the arena for Saturday's hockey game. Plenty of people had said they would try to help, but no one had promised....

    Outnumbered Blackhawks fan Dan Katz of Chicago marches with Sticks of Fire toward Amalie Arena on Saturday for Game 2.
  2. Tampa kindergarteners celebrate Phoebe Jonchuck with 'reading garden'

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — For weeks, the kindergarteners worked on their stepping stones, studying the shapes, penciling their plans, picking out pieces for the presents they were making for Phoebe — their friend who was "up in Cloud School."

    "I miss Phoebe," one girl wrote beside a smiley face.

    "I luv Febe," another inscribed above two stick figures holding hands.

    The girl who had sat next to Phoebe Jonchuck, who had been her first best friend, drew an angel with curly hair, a steep smile, and fluttery wings. "Phoebe," she sketched, "You are my friend!"...

    Stepping stones created  in memory of  Phoebe Jonchuck by her kindergarten classmates at Cleveland Elementary School, family members and school staff  in the "reading garden. [CHERIE DIEZ | Times]
  3. A tale of two mothers: What one gave up to ease the ache of the other

    Human Interest

    LINDSAY

    When she got the call, Lindsay told herself not to get excited. So many things could still go wrong. Remember what happened last time?

    But she couldn't help it. Her heart was racing, her stomach tight. When she told her husband, her voice shook, "The baby is coming."

    Three states away, a woman they had never met was in labor.

    If they drove all night from Franklin, Tenn., they might get to the Florida hospital in time for the birth of the boy they hoped would become their son....

    RIGHT: About 20 new aunts, uncles and cousins came to the church when Josh and Lindsay Lee had their newly adopted baby Gus baptized.
  4. A hospice care primer and how to find care in the Tampa Bay area

    Health

    Hospices started opening in the United States in the 1970s, primarily for cancer patients who chose not to continue treatment. Over the years, hospices have evolved to also care for people suffering from heart and lung disease, dementia and other progressive ailments.

    If a doctor thinks someone has less than six months to live, that person can qualify for services. Hospice agencies provide doctors, nurses, social workers and chaplains to help patients ease toward their end, often at home....

  5. Davion Only's quest for a family comes to a formal end

    Human Interest

    CLEARWATER — He looked straight ahead as he threaded through the crowded courtroom, packed with more than 50 people who had filled in for his family.

    His social worker was there, his mentor, his last foster mom. Even that lady from the church where he had stood up, more than a year ago, and asked someone to adopt him.

    Davion Navar Henry Only, 17, walked past them all on Wednesday and slid into a wooden chair, facing the judge. His former caseworker, Connie Going, sat beside him. His face was blank. She couldn't stop smiling....

    Retired Judge Raymond Gross shakes 17 yr old Davion Only Going's hand and presents him with a journal  after Davion's  adoption was finalized Wednesday by Judge Sherwood Coleman and  Judge Gross  at the Pinellas County Criminal Justice Center. Mom Connie Going is far left, siblings from left are Carley Going, 17, Taylor Going, 14, and Sydney Going, 21.  Before getting up from the court table Davion began the first entry in his journal, using the pen, presented  to him by  Judge Coleman, that was used to sign the adoption papers. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]
  6. Finally, a family for Davion (w/video)

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG

    For a long time after he was sent back to Florida, Davion didn't want to talk.

    Not to the counselors the agency sent to console him; not to the guys from his old group home or the teachers at his new high school. Not to the foster parents who took him in; he knew they didn't plan to keep him. Or to the church people he had stood before when he asked someone — anyone — to adopt him....

    Surrounded by his soon-to-be family on March 23, Davion Only, 17, plays NBA 2K15 on the Xbox in his bedroom. Behind him are Connie Going, left, her daughter Carley, 17, and her adopted son, Taylor, 14. Going has been Davion’s caseworker since he was 7.
  7. Don Zimmer's wife documented every day of his 66 years in pro baseball (w/video)

    Human Interest

    By LANE DeGREGORY

    Times Staff Writer

    SEMINOLE — The last scrapbook has lots of blank pages. ¶ It ends on the first day of January, with the Boston Globe's Year in Review. "Gone but not forgotten," the headline says. The full-page photo is of her husband wearing his Red Sox uniform, smiling sideways in the sun. ¶ Since then, no newspaper had printed his name. At least not that Soot Zimmer has seen. ¶ After seven decades, she thought her scrapbooking days were done....

    Don Zimmer, third from left, (in white shirt, dark jacket) looks over the shoulder of Hollywood actor Lana Turner while on a round of meeting stars and baseball greats after he and his team won the 1947 national American Legion championship in Los Angeles.
  8. As time wanes, a bucket list becomes less adventurous, more emotional

    Features

    LARGO

    Last Sunday, a couple of hours before their kids were supposed to come over, Robert "Smitty" Smith called his wife to his bedside and told her, "I'm sorry. I don't think I can make it."

    He had been holding on for this evening. Their daughter, Nicole, was going to drive. Their son, Nathan, was going to help with the wheelchair. They were going to see the Tampa Bay Lightning game....

    Caron Smith helps her husband, Robert, to his seat for the Feb. 8 Lightning game in Tampa. Their two adult children were also on hand to help Smith cross an item off his bucket list.
  9. Rolls-Royce emerges from the shadows for more days in the sun (w/video)

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG

    For decades, the two white houses had been dying.

    Side-by-side they slumped, on an overgrown lot, at the edge of an old neighborhood where new owners were rebuilding. Paint was flaking off their rotten siding. Boards blanketed the wide windows. Around both, signs screamed, "No Trespassing."

    The homes, two-story wooden duplexes, had been born in the '20s. An office had been beneath one. The other sagged over a two-car garage ....

    Pam Nickels sold two houses and a lot to Charles Cato in October. She also gave him a set of keys.
  10. For women in the Pinellas County Jail, the Red Tent room offers tears, growth, hope

    Human Interest

    Editor's note: The four-hour Red Tent Project session was recorded. The women's words have been edited for length and clarity.

    LARGO

    Two afternoons a week, after lunch, before laundry duty, a dozen women at the Pinellas County Jail leave their pods and thread down a long, dark corridor — through 10 locked doors, past a guard station, into a space they call the Red Tent Room....

    Pinellas County Jail inmates Karen Fleming, left, and Traci Johnson, right, give their craft projects a rest and listen while Shirley Parker talks and sews at a Red Tent Project meeting in December. Parker, 59, is in jail this time for larceny and retail theft. “Two weeks after I got out last time, I came right back in here,” she says. “My purpose in coming to Red Tent is to find a new direction. I need to learn how to live sober. I’m not a bad person. I just do bad things.”
  11. In Pahokee, football serves as a way out

    Life

    PAHOKEE — On the day he thought would change everything, Fred left home early while his siblings, nieces and nephews slept. He skipped breakfast, not even a Pop-Tart. His stomach was tight with excitement.

    As he waited outside for his ride to school, a slate sky blanketed the black muck behind him. Ahead, the sun climbed above the clouds, casting a golden glow across the projects.

    Dontrell "Fred" Johnson, 19, pulled the flip phone from his shorts: 7:28 a.m. Then he shouldered his flowered backpack, which was stuffed with hope....

    Legendary Pahokee football coach Don Thompson's son, Blaze, is the head football coach at Pahokee High School now. During the 2013-14 school year, only four of the varsity team's players still had a dad in their life. So, by default that role falls to Blaze and his assistant coaches -- for offering guidance, teaching discipline and for small tasks, like tying ties for most of his players, like Kenard Davis (shown here) before the annual Muck Bowl banquet. The ties were also all provided by the high school.
  12. In Pahokee, football serves as a way out

    Human Interest

    PAHOKEE — On the day he thought would change everything, Fred left home early while his siblings, nieces and nephews slept. He skipped breakfast, not even a Pop-Tart. His stomach was tight with excitement.

    As he waited outside for his ride to school, a slate sky blanketed the black muck behind him. Ahead, the sun climbed above the clouds, casting a golden glow across the projects.

    Dontrell "Fred" Johnson, 19, pulled the flip phone from his shorts: 7:28 a.m. Then he shouldered his flowered backpack, which was stuffed with hope....

    A half-hour before the National Signing Day deadline to submit paperwork to be eligible for college scholarship offers, guidance counselors try to help Fred.
  13. Time is short, but Zeke the Labrador lives to keep his owner alive

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG

    The first time it happened, Gerald Rittinger was driving to buy his gravestone. His diabetes was getting worse. Doctors had just diagnosed him with prostate cancer. They gave him six months. Gerald's wife, Jeanne, was in the passenger seat of their Lincoln that day. Their puppy, Zeke, was supposed to stay in the back seat. But the yellow Labrador kept putting his big paws on the console between them, inching forward. They headed north on Interstate 75 to his family cemetery in Kentucky. After about three hours, Zeke stood up and began barking. "Down! Zeke, get down!" Jeanne scolded, tugging at his collar. Zeke leapt up, nuzzling his wet nose against Gerald's neck. Licking his face. Laughing, Gerald tried to push away the puppy. But Zeke wouldn't back off. His barking got louder. The dog became so agitated that Gerald had to pull off the highway. Seconds later, Gerald had a seizure. "If he had still been driving," Jeanne said, "all of us would have been killed." That was 12 years ago. Gerald had his headstone engraved, planted it in the graveyard, then came home to die. But Zeke wouldn't let him....

    Despite having no training at all, Zeke, 13, knows when Gerald Rittinger’s diabetic condition worsens. He alerted Gerald’s wife, Jeanne, and neighbors when Gerald has passed out from low blood sugar — and during his second stroke. How does he do it? Nobody knows. But this persistent yellow Lab has retrieved days, months and years for his ailing, grateful owner.
  14. Where did peace and quiet go?

    Human Interest

    I just needed a quiet corner to curl up in, to finish writing. I had spent a year reporting a story, which was set to run in Sunday's newspaper. But my son had been invited to a dance competition, so we had driven almost two hours to Orlando, to a Disney resort. While he rehearsed, I had to finish editing the project.

    It was too loud in the ballroom where his class was practicing. Even in the hall, the hip-hop tunes throbbed. I went to the lobby. Light rock was wafting above the armchairs. I tried the restaurant. The bar TV blared some soccer game; the commentators kept shouting. There was a couch in the ladies' room that would have worked. But 1970s songs spilled into the stalls. Outside by the pool, pop tunes overpowered the children's squeals....

    ST. PETERSBURG 11/26/2012 7. Lane DeGregory. FOR FLORIDIAN.  SCOTT KEELER | TAMPA BAY TIMES
  15. 43 times a minute, 'sound of progress' just makes people furious (w/video)

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG

    It started on a Tuesday, April 29, 7:01 a.m., while kids were eating Cheerios and professors were starting to shower and retirees were trying to sleep in.

    A steady hammering, metal on concrete, booming through downtown. Bang. Bang. Bang. Bang. Forty-three beats per minute. So loud it rattled windows, throbbed through floors, woke people three blocks away.

    A pile driver next to the downtown Publix parking lot was pounding poles up to 200 feet into the ground, constructing the skeleton for a 17-story apartment building....

    Construction at 330 3rd St. South in downtown St. Petersburg has recently included loud pile driving that disturbs people living nearby. The pile driver, seen on Thursday September 18th, 2014, drives poles into the ground to provide support for a new apartment building. The mechanism lifts a weight, used as a hammer, that slams into the pole and pushes it further into the ground.  

[MONICA HERNDON | Times]