Lanelle Hearn leaves legacy of the stained-glass cross

World-class athlete Bob Paulen turns 86 in Dewey
January 13, 2023

Stained-glass cross - Lanelle Hearn was a Bethel Methodist preschool stained-glass soul searcher. She was short with a big personality, and a leadoff hitter like Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros. Kindergarteners at Bethel preschool and Sunday school sat on her lap and listened to Bible stories. They would grow up and take their Mrs. Hearn-gifted stained-glass cross with them on life's journey. Lanelle followed them in newspaper stories and through stop-and-chat sessions. She was unrelentingly inquisitive, interactive and sharp like a shard of glass. Last week, approaching her 90th birthday, Lanelle Hearn went up, up and away to the fifth dimension. She is a spiritual hovercraft. Lanelle was a neighbor; my wife Susan helped get her to some games to capture the action of the D’Ambrogi boys (Hank and Luke) and Sabbagh girls (Marcelle, Noelle and Atia) and others. The postgame photos with Mrs. Hearn were not for Lanelle (she claimed), but for her kids: a permanent etching, a gift to them, an enduring spiritual bonding, a true guardian angel that never stops talking.

Paulen to Poland - Bob Paulen is a 1967 Yale Divinity School graduate and retired United Methodist minister who turns 86 Jan. 15. He lives in downtown Dewey, not the summer capital of lost souls, but souls on vacation. The USA Track and Field Awards Committee selected Paulen as the 2022 Age Group Men’s 85-89 Athlete of the Year for America. This award was based on a review of athlete performances for the year. Bob won five events at the National Indoor Championships and six events at the National Outdoor Championships, and broke three American records. The records were set in the short hurdles, both indoor and outdoor, and the long hurdles, which are only contested outdoors. The other events Bob won at each championship were the long jump, triple jump, high jump and pentathlon. The indoor pentathlon includes long jump, 200 meters, 1,500 meters, discus and javelin, while the outdoor events are high jump, long jump, hurdles, shot put and 1,000 meters. Bob will be going to Poland in March to represent the USA at the World Masters Athletic Indoor Championships. “Hopefully I'll be well conditioned and represent our country with a top effort,” Bob said. Addendum: “In 2017, after a successful National Indoor Championship [five gold medals], I broke my ankle while running the bleachers at Cape Henlopen High School. I was on crutches for several weeks with my foot in a boot. Two weeks after the ankle break, I was diagnosed with bladder cancer. In late March, I was operated on successfully. The surgeon said that it was the first time that he had ever operated on a patient in a boot! I had monthly, then quarterly and now annual checkups. To date, I am cancer-free. I was able to resume my competition the following spring.” He added, “Please thank everyone at Cape Henlopen who has made room for me as I train on the track. Everyone has been so nice.” 

Commotio cordis - It occurs when “a severe blow to the chest causes the heartbeat to quiver, leading to sudden cardiac arrest.” ( “But in general, underlying heart disease is the most common cause of sudden cardiac arrest,” said Dr. Mariell Jessup, American Heart Association chief medical officer. So seeing Buffalo Bills player Damar Hamlin drop to the turf in Cincinnati, then reading about what happened to him, we all conclude, “We don’t know what we don’t know,” which lies somewhere between a truism and a riddle. If, in fact, there are heart-stopping tackles, I’d expect maybe one per season, not a once-in-50-years occurrence. I do know when the games resumed last weekend no player appeared to slow down. The hits were as ferocious as ever, because hesitation on the football field will get you trucked. Forbes magazine reported in 2020 the participation in youth football from Pop Warner through high school is on a steady decline as well as attendance at college games. I look at it like this: If beachfront property is available on the cheap along the Bay of Bengal, it's most likely because the next tidal surge is washing you and the dog out to sea. A parallel observation:  Look at the demographics and analytics of professional and college football rosters, then ask yourself, “What are the demographics of those who choose not to play?”    

Snippets - Speaking as a sports reporter, I understand the differences between an interview, an interrogation and a conversation. And a person staring at a cellphone cannot have simultaneous interaction with another live person. Parents and grandparents, siblings, aunts and uncles, and countless cousins are eager to know, “What’s going on with your sport? How are you doing in practice? Do you think you may start?” And mostly the athletes would like to respond, “Live your life and let me live mine.” Reminds me of the 2015 state soccer semifinal when Brent Hochrein had 18 saves in a 1-0 overtime loss to Sallies. I called Brent the Exotic Illness Guy after he survived disseminated encephalomyelitis with a stint at A.I. duPont, then came back and ran some 5Ks to drop weight; he was always so congenial. The following year, the senior broke his arm in a game at Polytech. He was holding a towel under his forearm. I came over and asked, “How are you feeling, Brent?” He smiled and said, “I'm OK, Fredman; how are you feeling?” We both laughed. I remember saying, “It doesn’t matter how I’m feeling.” But Brent didn’t see it that way.  He is a rare person for sure. Brent teaches at the Sussex Consortium, and coaches freshman soccer for the Cape boys’ and girls’ teams. Go on now, git!


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