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‘Sean of The South’ visits Weeki Wachee

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His father committed suicide using a hunting rifle, when he was just 12 years old.

He had a life-changing decision to make after his father’s tragic death; which was undoubtedly an unfair situation for a boy his age.  

The life-changing decision: What does he do with his life?

Born in Missouri, Sean Dietrich moved to Florida at the age of 14. It was two years after his father’s suicide.

Since then, he has called Florida his home; only to figure out his soul belonged in the Deep South.

As that young boy has grown into a man, Mr. Dietrich did something unexpected. 

When traumatic things happen to children, there are many perceived reasons for them to give up, and quit. They may believe that they’re not good enough to achieve dreams that they have within themselves. They begin to believe that because of their circumstances, some things just aren’t possible.

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Mr. Dietrich has broken that mold; and he’s broken that mold in a unique way.

The year after his father committed suicide, Sean dropped out of school in the 7th grade. He never graduated. 

Later, he became a construction worker. He also spent time painting houses and other similar odd jobs to pay the bills. He’s written about this time of his life, working alongside co-workers who were former prison inmates and people from similar interesting backgrounds. People he sees as his friends.

But one day, while sitting in a very small community college English class as an adult student, something began to change.

Someone believed in him. A teacher. Most importantly, he began to believe in himself.

Once that happened, there wasn’t anything that could stop him.

Mr. Dietrich is better known as ‘Sean of the South,’ a columnist, novelist, blogger, podcaster, radio show host, humorist and writer.

Google his name and endless amounts of articles appear within seconds. They are all written about Sean by journalists and reporters across the Southeast.

His extraordinary humility dismisses the fame, but there’s no denying it. Sean is somebody. He’s somebody to a lot of people who look to him for advice and basically, to feel good about life. 

The irony of it all is that Sean always wanted to be a newspaper reporter. He writes about job interviews where he stood and was rejected several times trying to pursue a career field as a journalist. Now all of those journalists and media reporters are knocking on his door. 

Sean has written nine books, the most recently released “Stars of Alabama” (2019) is a tale about the dignity of humanity and the value of enduring hope. 

His works are followed by thousands of admirers, who adore his perceptions and portrayals of life in the American South. He often writes about his own personal struggles which all of his followers find deeply inspirational.

But what is even more interesting is he enjoys writing detailed stories of those he’s met along his travels. These are everyday folks who have real, true stories to tell of their own. So he helps them by sharing their stories with the world. Those stories range from sitting in depressing state government buildings waiting on an adopted baby to arrive in the arms of a new mother…to…sitting in an old nursing home room, and gently talking to a friend’s elderly mother who has advanced dementia. 

He has written over 1700 stories.

Many of them can all be found at www.seandietrich.com. He also uses Facebook and Instagram to connect with his fans and followers. 

Sean Dietrich recently traveled to Hernando County with his wife, Jamie. They came to see the reknowned live mermaid show at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park for the first time. 

Sean’s Trip to Weeki Wachee 

On October 4, 2019, Sean shared his experience. This is an excerpt from his online post (www.seandietrich.com) titled “Mermaids.” 

“…..The elderly couple on my other side is from Upstate New York. “Yeah I’ve seen the mermaids several times”, the lady says, “came when I was a kid. The training the mermaids go through is really difficult, I admire them.”
Her husband winks at me. ‘I admire them too…..””

I asked Sean: “Did the mermaid show meet your expectations?”

Sean remarked, “Definitely. My wife and I were visiting for a speech I was giving in the area for Florida tourism as we are Floridians, ourselves. I have always wanted to see the show. I felt like a 10 year old boy watching the curtain rise up. There were lots of interesting people in the crowd as well. It really was a great experience for me.” 
A Deeper Conversation with Sean Dietrich 

Sean was very generous and agreed to talk with me about his life experiences. We talked a bit about his father’s suicide. 

We also chatted about my own father, who died of a sudden heart attack. I was 16 years old; a kid, as well. Later on my grandfather committed suicide (by use of firearm) just a few years after he escorted me down the aisle of my wedding. 

Losing a parent as a child or losing a loved one to suicide, Sean kindly said to me that it feels like you’re part of a club that you never want to be in. I certainly agreed with him.  

With that, I asked him, “What would be your best advice to a child who has tragically lost a parent?” 

Sean said, “It’s very hard in the beginning for all of us who have been there. But know that there is fun and good times on the other side (of grieving). There is life afterwards.” 

I also asked, “What would be your best advice to a person who has lost a loved one to suicide?” 

“That it’s actually good to talk about it all. I didn’t realize that until much later. But it is good to talk about the loss. It isn’t taboo. It’s a good thing to remember that loved one with fondness even though they died in such a tragic way,” he explained.

For someone who was handed a rather raw deal as a young boy, Sean has certainly turned the world around and through his books, articles, and stories has made connections with people and shown them that although there are bad things that happen in life, it does not mean that life is hopeless.  It certainly does not mean the unfortunate bad things that have happened to you have to define who you are. They can actually inspire you.

Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil
Lisa MacNeil is a reporter for the Hernando Sun as well as a business technology developer, specializing in website development, content management systems, and data analysis.
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