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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. Susie Wheldon, wife of late IndyCar champion Dan Wheldon, opens up about life without him

    Auto racing

    At the edge of the racetrack, on a wide pad of asphalt, Susie Wheldon stooped to help her small son.

    Sebastian, 7, already had wriggled into his Puma fire suit. Susie slid the chest protector over his head, to keep his lungs from being crushed. She strapped on the neck brace, to protect his spine. She tied his tiny racing shoes.

    "Ready to go?" asked his coach.

    The boy nodded, and climbed into his new Kid Kart. As soon as he pulled the helmet over his spiky blonde hair, his usual grin melted. He scrunched his freckled nose and set his jaw. "Getting his game face on," Susie called it....

    Declared "St. Petersburg's favorite son" by Mayor Bill Foster, Dan Wheldon waves at the crowd of race fans while walking out onto the stage at Jannus Live holding his then 2-year-old son Sebastian during the Dan Wheldon Indy 500 Victory Party - A Hometown Celebration on June 7, 2001.  [MELISSA LYTTLE | Times (2011)]
  2. Can you solve the mystery of this afflicted St. Petersburg statue?

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG

    She slumps beside the sidewalk on a plaster stump, right arm resting on her thigh. Her right hand fell off long ago. Her left arm is gone.

    Her torso, draped in concrete cloth, is turned toward the house, as if she were watching it. But her eyes are closed — as if she can't bear to see.

    The statue is life-size; its features, eroded. It sits on the edge of 22nd Avenue S, at the edge of 46th Street, next to a no-name corner store. Its bare feet are rimmed by broken Snapple bottles....

    A weather-worn, life-size statue sits on the north edge of 22nd Ave S near 46th Street. Its origin is a mystery. Recently, someone placed a shirt over the statue's head. Photographed Jan. 5, 2017. (JOHN PENDYGRAFT |   Times)
  3. Orthodox Syrians gather to pray, but talk of immigration ban is elusive

    National

    TARPON SPRINGS

    The special service wouldn't start for an hour. But by 5 p.m. Thursday, people were pouring into the church.

    Men in dark suits, hoisting toddlers on their hips. Women in high heels, pulling lace veils over their dark hair.

    They came from Miami, Orlando and Jacksonville, to Florida's largest Syrian Orthodox church. They came to see the church patriarch, to take communion with him, to get his blessing and hear his news....

    Rose Gabro prays at St. Athanasius Syriac Orthodox Church. She applauds the immigration ban, saying, “Whatever it takes to protect us.”
  4. Peter Pan and Wendy found love in real life

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — He first saw her onstage, dancing in a silver sequined dress.

    He whispered to his friend, "That's the most beautiful girl I've ever seen."

    Taylor Simmons, then 23, had just moved from California to Florida, to play Jack in freeFall Theatre's Into the Woods. Some cast members were being honored at the 2014 Theatre Tampa Bay awards, so he had gone to clap for them at the Palladium. ...

    Taylor and Gabriella Simmons act as Peter Pan and Wendy in Peter Pan at freeFall Theatre in St. Petersburg on January 12, 2017. Taylor and Gabriella got married in Bradenton on December 30, 2016.
  5. Time capsule: On a beach, he found a box containing a stranger's ashes

    Human Interest

    Time capsule: This is a recurring Floridian magazine feature that allows readers to re-experience some of the Tampa Bay Times' best stories with the wisdom of hindsight. Writer Lane DeGregory got a phone call last month about this story, from the children of Dr. Ayestaran. He held on to that box for years, they told her. But he never got close to finding out whose remains were inside, where they came from or where they belonged....

    photo  CAPTION: (02/13/2008 St. Petersburg, FL) Mug of Dr. Emilio Ayestaran.    JAMES BORCHUCK   |   Times
STORY SUMMARY: guy finds box of momentos
  6. Ghostly warning: Dead gangster Ma Barker doesn't want her house moved

    Human Interest

    OCKLAWAHA — He called the newsroom with a warning: They can't move that house.

    "I'm worried something terrible is going to happen," the man said in a thick New York accent. "I have to warn somebody."

    Then he told me a ghost story.

    His name is Donald J. Weiss. He's a 62-year-old retired police patrolman from upstate New York. He had moved to Ocala several years ago and visited the house where gangster Ma Barker had been killed. He had wanted to see the site of the longest shootout in FBI history: four hours, more than 2,000 bullets....

    Tony Stewart, a crime biographer, says he sees Ma Barker watching from the window in this photo.
  7. How do you tell a story without words? Two dancers give it a spin.

    Stage

    ST. PETERSBURG — The dance came from a conversation. About having conversations. Some of the best ones, the two dancers agreed, had been with strangers.

    So they started there.

    Kellie Harmon, 27, told her friend about a girl she had met on a New York subway. The girl was 6, maybe 7, and asked Kellie if she had any princess songs on her phone.

    Crystal DelGiudice, 30, told her friend about a man she met in an Ybor City bar. He looked like some hipster jock but wanted to discuss philosophy and astronomy, the meaning of life....

    Kellie Harmon, left, and Crystal DelGiudice work on an interpretive dance about conversations.
  8. This painting made two people fall in love and helped a man connect with the dead

    Human Interest

    TAMPA

    One night last spring, Gordon Stevenson plugged his name into Google. Up popped a link to an episode of Antiques Roadshow.

    "Gordon Stevenson," read the link. "Portrait of a Man Painting, ca. 1940."

    His grandfather, his namesake, had been a painter. Gordon had only one of his works, a portrait of his departed dad. It hangs above Gordon's bed in his Tampa home, and was watching over him that night....

    Gordon Stevenson photographed with his father, John Stevenson, in 1970. His father died when he was 8, and Gordon always wondered what it would have been like to have him around. Photo courtesy of Gordon Stevenson.
  9. A month after mass shooting at Pulse nightclub, survivors struggle to keep the dead alive

    Human Interest

    ORLANDO — They stood on the second-floor balcony of his townhouse, staring over the chain-link fence, into the parking lot of what's left of Pulse nightclub.

    One month to the day after the deadliest mass shooting in American history, cleaning crews scuttled in and out. Police still surrounded the broken building, their red and blue lights striping the streets.

    From their perch, Brock Cornelius, 40, and his friend Samantha Stone, 36, watched the throngs stream to the makeshift memorial, cradling daisies, setting up candles, dropping to their knees to pray....

    Police guard the Pulse property from the street between the nightclub and Cornelius’ condo building Tuesday, the one-month anniversary of the shooting that left 49 people dead. Mourners have been visiting a memorial to the victims around the clock since the shooting.
  10. For these sick children, each tiny bead is a badge of courage

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG — After the transplant team finished its rounds, after nurses checked her oxygen level and a doctor came to say: Yes, she would have to have surgery again today, Maddie Price asked her mom to hand her the paisley drawstring bag hanging in her hospital room.

    Maddie, 16, struggled to sit up. She was pale and puffy from all the medication. A month earlier, she had received her second new heart and suffered all kinds of complications....

    Maddie displays her glass heart transplant bead at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in 
St. Petersburg. She receives beads for procedures as part of the Beads of Courage program.
  11. After a lifetime of labor and sleepless nights, a Tampa doctor decides to deliver his last baby, No. 7,357

    Human Interest

    By LANE DeGREGORY | Times Staff Writer

    TAMPA

    His pregnant patient was progressing slowly at home. So the doctor told her to head to the hospital. He would meet her there.

    Dr. Bruce Shephard, 72, walked through his office, where the walls were filled with children's faces.

    Sleeping infants, laughing toddlers, gap-toothed grade schoolers, prom princesses. Every age, from a minute old through motherhood....

    Dr. Bruce Shephard holds his last delivery, Angel Antonio Davalos, on Tuesday. CHERIE DIEZ | Times
  12. The aftermath of the Orlando nightclub shooting tests the courage of gay youth

    Human Interest

    ORLANDO — Matt Casler didn't recognize his neighborhood as he drove home last Sunday morning.

    Cop cars lined every corner. Barricades blocked the streets. Sirens screamed.

    A few hours after the deadliest shooting in U.S. history, it had been turned into a war zone.

    He steered past armed troopers, beneath hovering helicopters. Dizzy and disoriented, the 18-year-old kept checking his phone: 20 dead so far, and the count would climb....

    Matt Casler, who wants to be a journalist, photographed a vigil Monday night, the day after the mass shooting at Pulse, a nightclub near his family’s home in Orlando.
  13. Drag queen who escaped Orlando shooting calls for the music to play on

    Human Interest

    ORLANDO — The drag queen dressed in all black. For mourning. She stepped onto the stage in her long-sleeved gown, towering in her sequined heels.

    At the edge of the stage she stopped. So did the music. She looked into the crowd, which got quiet.

    She was supposed to be lip-synching, sashaying down the runway. But since Sunday, she hadn't felt like dancing.

    "You all are brave," she told the crowd in Orlando's Parliament House Resort at about 1 a.m. Wednesday. "I know your parents told you not to come out tonight. But you did. And we thank you. We're here to give you a show."...

    Drag queen Angelica Sanchez lip-synchs to Jennifer Hudson’s “Bring Back the Music.” Three nights earlier she was at Pulse.
  14. At report card time, kids bring their grades to 'Grandmom'

    Human Interest

    ST. PETERSBURG

    She wasn't sure, with the rain and all, how many kids would come by. She couldn't sit out on the porch and call them over. It was still too wet.

    So on the last day of school, she spread the bulging candy bags across her coffee table, set out cookies, chips, a stack of new $1 bills, and sank into her sofa to wait.

    Marian Evette Williams, 59, lives in a one-story bungalow in Childs Park, near the empty corner lot where the neighborhood kids hang out. She knows them all by name, knows who lives where and what school they go to. She fusses at them: "Pick up that trash! Pull up your pants! Stop cussing! Don't give me no sass, now. I'm not playin'!"...

    Marian Williams hugs Al’zaveon Harris, 11,  in her living room last week and congratulates him and his brothers, Tra’von Welch, 8, center, and Ja’Veon Harris, 9, on their report cards and stellar conduct reports from Gulfport Elementary School. 
  15. Community gathers to thank Alberta, the yellow lab guide dog who served them all

    Features

    ST. PETERSBURG — All afternoon, they streamed into Alberta's home. Students and professors, kids from the church down the street. A yoga teacher. A tennis pro. Friends from the dog training club.

    They came bearing cookies, cheese and wine, a poster to sign. The dean had bought sparkly paint. The Uber driver brought meatloaf.

    For five hours, they shared stories and hugs as they said good-bye and wished Alberta a happy, healthy retirement....

    Pam Hogle, left, joins Deni Elliott, center, and her guide dog Alberta, along with other friends on Sunday, May 1. OCTAVIO JONES | Times