Burt Reynolds filmed B.L. Stryker in Palm Beach County and at least one episode in Delray.

The world lost two titans last week, actor Burt Reynolds and Amway co-founder and Orlando Magic owner Rich DeVos.

But while most of the obituaries chronicled the triumphs of both men– memorable roles for Mr. Reynolds and business success for Mr. DeVos–I thought of something else—brief meetings with both men.

I met Mr. Reynolds while he was filming his detective series B.L. Stryker in Palm Beach County thirty years ago.
He chose to film parts of an episode on South Swinton Avenue at the Cathcart House, owned by Virginia Snyder at the time, a real life private investigator.
I was working for the Delray Times and managed to wangle an invite to the set for an interview.

This was a bit of a coup because Mr. Reynolds had a grudge at the time against the Lantana- based National Enquirer and was wary of anyone carrying a notebook.

Once I was able to convince him that I wasn’t a tabloid reporter looking to dish dirt, he warmed up and we had a brief but memorable (for me anyway) interview on the porch.

As a bonus, I also got to meet his co-star on that episode the great Maureen Stapleton. The experience was a blast. This was Burt Reynolds, the bandit, the star of some of my favorite movies: The Longest Yard, Deliverance, The End, Semi Tough, Sharky’s Machine, Best Friends and the sinfully underrated Starting Over which starred my favorite actress and childhood crush Jill Clayburgh.

If I may digress, I once clipped a picture out of Newsday of Ms. Clayburgh and presented it when I shyly and painfully asked a young Clayburgh look alike in my high school for a date. I was so nervous that I literally forgot her answer to my query, but I do remember that she wasn’t sure whether I was flattering her or not.

PS. I was.

Jill Clayburgh was beautiful.

But back to Mr. Reynolds.

He was Florida’s favorite son.

He loved Palm Beach County and did a lot to promote our state and county.

I once interviewed his acting teacher, the late great Watson B. Duncan at Palm Beach State College. He was very proud of Burt Reynolds. And rightfully so.

Mr. Reynolds was a good guy. And a great patron of the local art scene.
He will always be remembered and sorely missed.

As for Mr. DeVos, he was a giant in business and philanthropy. His name adorns our local YMCA.
Way back when, he spoke at a Mayors Prayer Breakfast and I had a chance to share a podium and a breakfast with him.

He gave a wonderful speech and gifted me his book “Hope From My Heart” which told the extraordinary story of his 1997 heart transplant, a three way operation that was just an amazing story. So was starting a global business with $49 of startup capital.

We had a great conversation at breakfast and I remember him being very kind and gracious.

Mr. DeVos mentored a friend of mine, Frank McKinney. In fact, I learned of his death on Frank’s Instagram page.
May both men Rest In Peace. I wanted to share their “Delray stories.” Thanks for the opportunity.

P.S. Tomorrow is 9/11. As we mourn the loss of icons, we should always remember those who lost their lives on that fateful day and in the wars that followed. I always say a special prayer for a classmate, Michael Boyle, a New York firefighter who bravely lost his life on that tragic day. He was only 37.