Lorn Heimann“My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends; it gives a lovely light!”– Edna St. Vincent Millay, an American lyrical poet, playwright and feministBY DELORES SAVAS - If there was ever a paradise to raise a child in many years ago, it was in Boca Grande. It was a place where the young children on the island could be close to nature and be as free in spirit as possible. They were surrounded by beautiful sandy beaches and wildlife.
Iguanas roamed freely, as did the alligators that rested lazily on the Inn’s golf course. Raccoons and opossums, snakes and other critters kept each other in balance.
It was a time when island teens jumped off bridges into the cool waters, laughing as they enjoyed their plunge. There were not numerous signs to tell them it was not allowed.
Many young people enjoyed cool, summer nights sitting along the seawall off 5th Street, playing their guitars, singing and enjoying the breezes.
Lorn Heimann, my late son, was among these youths. He also climbed a huge pine tree next to a cove and built a tree house in its welcoming branches. When Steve Seidensticker, the past manager of the Gasparilla Inn, called Lorn into his office and told him he could not live in the tree house, Lorn asked him if he could buy the tree. Of course, Seidensticker refused the request and told Lorn he reminded him of himself when he was Lorn’s age.
When Lorn was killed in an automobile accident on the island in 1993, Seidensticker allowed Lorn’s many friends to erect a cross in his honor off 5th Street, up along the shore by the trees. The tree-house tree still stands there today where friends and family often bring tokens of remembrance to Lorn.
Shells, flowers and beads could often be found draped on the cross along with other mementos. There are many who will bring little gifts on his birthday, November 10.
Many islanders may remember Lorn. He often had his outlaw dog, Weasel, draped on his shoulders or following obediently behind him. She had the bad reputation of nipping people’s ankles but she listened and followed Lorn obediently.
He also made quite an impression when he helped with Friends of Wildlife on the island with the care of injured birds and animals. He became close friends with our talking crow that was named Lorn by the Peace River Wildlife Center in Punta Gorda when he had to be placed there. The staff named him after Lorn in his honor when he was killed in 1993.
Being surrounded with nature and island living helped Lorn become aware of the environment and animals. He was always the one asking others to help pick up any garbage left behind after guitar jam sessions on the beach.
He had a special love for dolphins and often spent many evening hours with Weasel at his side watching them frolic in the Gulf.
A favorite day of mine was when an irate island resident called to complain that Lorn and a group of his “tye-dyed” shirt-wearing friends stopped traffic. When I asked her why he stopped the traffic she said just to help two turtles cross the road.
Yes, he was a special child who was very aware of the environment. He was a writer and musician, and his words often voiced his concern about what was happening around him. His friends are still fiercely loyal to him and remember his kindness and the encouraging words he often gave to help them.
Barbara Molloy, a former islander who watched Lorn grow up, said these words at his service.
“His life was like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: daring escapades, a secret tree house, in trouble for skateboarding in town, and in trouble for ‘Ninja raids’, all with the mischievous hint of a smile. Quick at whatever he turned his hand to, he went from one thing to the next – searching, feeling his way.
“He worked feverishly on his writing and music, as if he had no time to waste. And his time ran out too soon. But he was present in that brief span, more than many of us with long years at our leisure. May his sprit urge us onto using gifts, and completing the work we’re here to do.”
He was an island child of the sea, with his long blond hair and piercing blue eyes that drew many people to him. He is still remembered, missed, and loved by family and friends.
His favorite tree still stands swaying in the wind, the cross in the cove is still beckoning to his friends, the sounds of music played by his many friends still echo on the beach, and dolphins listening to the happy sounds still swim by as the spirit of Lorn remains.
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