Make us your home page

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


Twitter: @LaneDeGregory

Phone: (727) 893-8825


Twitter: @LaneDeGregory

  1. Special report: The Long Fall of Phoebe Jonchuck


    A year ago, a man drove to the top of a bridge, held his 5-year-old daughter over the side and let go.

    It was a horrifying act that left a community shaken. He must have been crazy. It was the only thing that made sense. No one could have predicted this, his family said. He loved his daughter, Phoebe. And yet, for years, police had documented violence between Phoebe's parents, and child protection workers had visited her home five times. Seven times, people called the abuse hotline, fearing for her safety. And still, no one stopped it....

    John Jonchuck Jr. drove to the top of the Dick Misener Bridge on the approach to the Sunshine Skyway and dropped his daughter Phoebe into the waters of Tampa Bay on Jan. 8, 2015. [CHERIE DIEZ | Times]
  2. John Jonchuck, who dropped daughter Phoebe, 5, to her death, still not competent to stand trial


    Eight months after being accused of dropping his 5-year-old daughter off the Dick Misener bridge, John Jonchuck, 25, still is not competent to stand trial, his court-appointed lawyer said Tuesday.

    "The hospital issued a report in July, where doctors declared him incompetent, and that still stands," assistant public defender Kandice Friesen said after a brief appearance before Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Chris Helinger....

  3. A mom ponders her identity as her firstborn leaves for college

    Human Interest

    All year, I watched our son plan his escape.

    He started designing his dorm room in June, downloading the dimensions, measuring to make sure all his computer equipment would fit, ordering a tapestry of his favorite band to blanket the wall above his new bed.

    "I'm ready," he kept telling me. "I got this."

    For him, summer seemed too long.

    For me, college orientation arrived like an ambush....

    Ryland DeGregory gets a hug from mom Lane after moving into his dorm room at UCF.
  4. Friends, strangers, young and old rally raucously for the Bolts



    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....

    What started with three guys has turned into a group of more than 300 who beat drums and wave flags in a rowdy procession to the arena.
  5. 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]
  6. A tale of two mothers: What one gave up to ease the ache of the other

    Human Interest


    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....

    Lindsay Lee holds Denton August Lee, nicknamed Gus, at Florida Hospital North Pinellas in Tarpon Springs. The Lees had tried to have a baby several times before turning to adoption.
  7. A hospice care primer and how to find care in the Tampa Bay area


    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....

  8. 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....

    After his adoption was finalized Wednesday by Judge Sherwood Coleman and retired Judge Raymond Gross  at the Pinellas County Criminal Justice Center, Davion Only Going, while still sitting at the court table with sister, Carley Going, 17, began the first entry in his journal, presented to him by Judge Gross, using the pen, used to sign the adoption papers and,  presented  to him by  Judge Coleman. [CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times]
  9. Finally, a family for Davion (w/video)

    Human Interest


    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....

    Davion Only laughs while playing a video game and listening to his soon-to-be-mother share family stories in the living room of their St. Petersburg home March 23. Going says her friends thought she was crazy for wanting to adopt another child.
  10. Don Zimmer's wife documented every day of his 66 years in pro baseball (w/video)

    Human Interest


    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 runs with the ball in a high school football game in 1948. Zimmer was voted first-team all-state that year as a quarterback and was recruited by the University of Kentucky.
  11. As time wanes, a bucket list becomes less adventurous, more emotional



    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....

    Robert Smith got to meet Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper after the first period Feb. 8. The other items Smith has been able to cross off his bucket list: buy a golf cart; visit the Elks Club; and see his siblings.
  12. Rolls-Royce emerges from the shadows for more days in the sun (w/video)

    Human Interest


    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 ....

    Pamela Nickels kept this 1956 Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud in the garage beneath her old duplex in St. Petersburg. Her father, John, top right with Nickels’ mother, Gerry, collected classic cars, but the Silver Cloud was Nickels’ favorite.
  13. 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.


    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....

    These are some of the crafts made for loved ones by female inmates at the Pinellas County Jail who participate in the Red Tent Project, a group for nonviolent offenders to help them turn their lives around.
  14. In Pahokee, football serves as a way out


    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....

    After practicing with his team, Fred raises his helmet to scan the crowd for his family. It was the seniors last home game as a Pahokee Blue Devil. As pre-game tradition dictates, the seniors got to walk from the endzone to the 50-yard-line with their families, as the announce reads a list of their accomplishments and future plans.
  15. 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....

    Pahokee head football coach Blaze Thompson’s wife Stephanie helps serve up a meal, donated by a local church, to the football team. Every Thursday evening after practice, the players know they can get a hot meal in the locker room. For some it’s the only hot or nutritious meal they get each week.