PEOPLE OF INTEREST
The CANCER FUNDRAISER
ANTHONY INSWASTY PHOTOS
Lenny Schelin Sr. has found a positive way to combine a love of boating, fishing
and family by raising money for cancer research after the death of his oldest son.
BY ELLEN GILLETTE
Lenny Schelin introduced his two sons to the
water when they were only three days and three
months old, respectively. Many families point to
the age a child walked or learned to read: The Schelin
boys, Lenny Jr. and Ryan, water-skied by age 3.
As a boy, Schelin lived on the North Fork of Long
Island, New York. A creek ran by his house. He had
his own boat. He loved the North Fork so much that
he was less than enthusiastic about moving to Florida
“For the first seven years I lived here, I would’ve
moved back if I could,” he says.
In Fort Pierce, however, Schelin worked on much
bigger boats at the Pelican Yacht Club in Fort Pierce. He
learned detail work and was hired as a mate in training.
At 14, he was hired to keep an eye on a snowbird’s
boat during the summer. At 15, he and his buddy
would spend the night on the ocean.
“It was a good way to grow up.”
After graduating high school, Schelin returned north
to train for the Coast Guard. After weeks of trudging
through 6-foot snow banks to swim in icy water, he
suffered a knee injury and was discharged, an unscheduled
move south that he welcomed.
“I was a Florida boy by then,” Schelin says.”I didn’t
like the cold weather.”
Schelin worked as a boat mechanic at Taylor Creek
Marina before branching out on his own and then going
back to Taylor Creek when it doubled in size. As
much as he loved the work, however, he also looked
ahead. Attending school at night, he earned a degree
in fire science.
After almost 25 years with the St. Lucie County Fire
District, Lt. Schelin retired. He especially enjoyed his
eight years at Station Four near Treasure Coast International
“The camaraderie with a good crew is the one thing
I miss the most,” he says.
Not that his current crew isn’t exceptional, of course.
Schelin is from New York. His wife Tobi — a nurse
practitioner and artist with her own captain’s license
— is from Washington, D.C. Coincidentally, both had
grandfathers who worked in Fort Pierce as bridge
tenders. Tobi even met Schelin’s grandfather when she
was visiting the area as a little girl.
The couple met briefly for the first time at an art
gallery Tobi had downtown with Schelin’s sister, Gail
Sheets. But despite the fact that Tobi worked in the
emergency room and knew many firefighters, they
didn’t see each other again for 15 years.
“Fate puts people together at the right time,” Tobi
says. “We got married in 2006.”
Recently, Schelin and Tobi spent six months traveling
the East Coast with their rescue dogs, Albert and
Bindi, aboard their 50-foot boat, Simply Grand.