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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. Couple falls for the biggest game at the fair

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — At the edge of the midway, where the air tastes like turkey legs, the young couple keeps kissing behind their booth: Fool the Guesser.

    They drove here in a diesel truck, through six states, and five other carnivals. Last week, they landed at the Florida State Fair in Tampa where they erected the green-and-blue tarp and set up their giant silver scale rimmed with white bulbs. They hung shiny vampires and stuffed monkeys and the most coveted prize of all: big blow-up bananas....

    Josh Bennett and Kiersten Copon take a break at their Fool the Guesser booth on Tuesday February 9, 2016 at the Florida State Fair. 

Copon and Bennett met while working another fair and decided to travel working fairs together. [

MONICA HERNDON | Times]
  2. Special report: The Long Fall of Phoebe Jonchuck

    News

    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]
  3. John Jonchuck, who dropped daughter Phoebe, 5, to her death, still not competent to stand trial

    Criminal

    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....

  4. 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....

    Photos courtesy of Lane DeGregory
  5. 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....

    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.
  6. 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]
  7. 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....

    Birth mother Tiffany Taylor, at Florida Hospital North Pinellas in Tarpon Springs, looks at the son who will be adopted by Josh and Lindsay Lee. The boy was Taylor’s seventh child. 
[EVE EDELHEIT | Times]
  8. 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....

  9. 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....

    Davion Only, 17, shares a smile with his new mom, Connie Going, left, and new sibling Carley Going, 17, on Wednesday during the adoption proceedings in Clearwater.
  10. 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....

    Connie Going walks past the Heart Gallery portraits of Davion and Taylor outside the boys’ rooms in their new home.
  11. 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.
  12. 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....

    Robert and Caron Smith celebrate one of five Lightning goals scored that evening. Before the game, Smith predicted the team would score five times, and he stayed till it did.
  13. 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 ....

    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.
  14. 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.”
  15. 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....

    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.