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|Published: August 30, 2005|
Section: Local, page B3
Source: JOHN HOPKINS
© 2005- Landmark Communications Inc.
BY John Hopkins THE VIRGINIAN-PILOT CHESAPEAKE -
Charles Farmer likes lions. On his bed, he has a lion comforter and stuffed animal. In his closet, he keeps his lion slippers. On his car, the license plates read : "Lion Byt.'' He has lion wallpaper, lion candles, pens, vases, salt and pepper shakers, necklaces, Christmas ornaments, pictures and toys. Every one of his T-shirts is adorned with a lion. The 40-year-old Chesapeake man figured the only thing left to do was to change his name. Farmer has petitioned Chesapeake Circuit Court to have his first name legally changed to "Simba." His last name will be changed to "Lyons." No middle name. "When I settled on the name it was right after 'The Lion King' movie came out," Farmer said from his home near Greenbrier. "It was a good movie. There were so many lessons in it that I liked, and the name fit." For years, his friends have known him as Simba. He's simply making it official with the court-approved name change. His first name comes from the lion cub character in the 1994 Disney movie. The animated film is about Simba's exile from his kingdom and his eventual return to find his place in the Circle of Life. Farmer, an auto body repairman, loves everything associated with "The Lion King." He dreams of one day seeing the live stage musical. "I've probably only seen the movie but about three times," he said. "Because every time I see it, I cry." The lion is more than just an image he admires. "He would live in a cave if he had his choice," joked his fiance , Lynne Hanlon. Farmer calls Hanlon "Nalyn," after a character in the movie called Nala, who was one of Simba's friends. The first time Hanlon met Farmer, she was at a party. She had ventured into the host's kitchen, where she got her first glimpse of Farmer. "There was this big lion," she recalled. "And everyone else was dressed normal, but he was dressed as this big lion. Everybody there knew him and didn't blink an eye." For Farmer, his name change will also put behind a troubled past. Born in Kansas City, Mo., Farmer said he didn't know his biological father until he was 30. His mother remarried when he was 7, and he took the last name Farmer from his stepfather. There were troubles, however, in the Farmer household, and he left home at the age of 16 to live with grandparents, he said. In March 1994, Farmer was abducted at gunpoint in Portsmouth by a murderer and alleged drug dealer who had escaped from the custody of a Portsmouth sheriff's deputy. Farmer was 29 at the time and working at a nursing home. Farmer was in his car when the escaped inmate opened the door, got in, waved a gun he took from the deputy he overpowered and ordered Farmer to start driving. "I was hoping he was just there for a misdemeanor or drug charge," he said. "I didn't know he was facing the death penalty or I would have wet myself." The abduction ended four hours later with Todd Moore's capture in North Carolina after a wild car trip through Hampton Roads and down U.S. 17 to Elizabeth City. Farmer was unharmed physically, but there were too many bad memories associated with the name Charles Farmer, he said. "Now I'm doing good," he said. "Now that I'm Simba, things are good."