MacArthur once said that old soldiers never die; they just fade away.
The same could be said of a man who just departed Logansport for a sunnier climate.
Steve Summers worked for the Pharos-Tribune from 1983 through this fall. After shooting thousands of photos and millions of shots that never made it into print, he is moving to Georgia to follow the passions of his wife and two sons, both of whom work and live there.
I had the pleasure of working with some top-notch photographers during my career, and Steve not only was one of them, but he hand-picked several of them to join the staff.
The significance of his career is that no other Pharos-Tribune photographer probably ever shot as many pictures of Logansport and the surrounding area than Steve did. He represented a bridge from the former Pharos-Tribune office where the existing parking lot is today. Steve was the last newsroom staffer hired when the Pharos was at its former location. He replaced the late George Hagene, who was one of the most well-known photographers the Pharos employed in the 20th century.
When Steve arrived from Ball State, we became quick friends. Steve's high school basketball coach, Roger Hughes, had been assistant coach at Logansport and was my typing teacher. We were two of the few single people in the newsroom and quickly took on several assignments.
One of the first pieces we did together was a photo page and story when we were afforded a ride on a diesel engine from Lafayette to Logansport. We learned the former Wilson Road intersection was the most dangerous in the Norfolk line from Decatur, Ill., east. It didn't take long for the county commissioners to shut down the intersection for good after Steve's pictures and my story appeared.
Steve was probably the best I ever knew when it came to getting to the scene of breaking news, and I was appreciative of that one day in particular. When Pioneer students decided to stage a protest march in support of fired football coach George Gilbert, I wrote a story that included language from the signs the students carried. An irate caller phoned my editor after the story appeared, claiming there were no signs with those words at the rally. But Steve had arrived at the protest moments after I did and produced pictures of all the signs. When the caller was informed we had pictures of the signs, there was only the sound of a click at the other end.
Steve was thorough, and that was apparent when we decided to referee elementary basketball games together. He never hesitated to stop a game for a second to teach young players what they had done wrong, or what they were suppose to do in certain situations from shooting free-throws to taking the ball out of bounds.
Steve has always been gifted with a great sense of humor, which served us all well on deadlines, and late at night when it was hard to find people awake or an agency open that could provide whatever information we needed.
That humor served him particularly well on his wedding day in his hometown of Veedersburg. It happened to be on my birthday, and he has his wife, Jenean, cut their first piece of cake for themselves and their second piece for me. But they had a quiet reception, primarily because the disc jockey couldn't find it.
"Oh, well," Steve smiled, "happy birthday."
One of his loves has always been basketball. One of his worst moments also came on the court after one of his best. While we were playing at the Cass County Family Y, an alley-oop pass to him resulted in a backdoor basket. When I heard him hit the floor behind me, he said in a calm voice, "My ankle's broken." It was dislocated, and it was obvious when I saw a tube sock connecting a leg and a shoe in a way that made you think Gumby could only have a leg in that position.
If your son or daughter was in any school group shot or team picture in the past 30 years, chances are good that Steve shot the picture, and he probably could have done it with one take. He is responsible for thousands of names spelled correctly and scores of reprints.
His story would not be complete without noting that he represents the thousands of journalists who made the transition from old journalism to the digital era. Steve made the transition almost seamlessly, mastering pagination, and at one point, serving as the only paginator Logansport had. He had the unenviable task of having to know what every writer and editor expected a story to look like on a page and turning their concept into a reality, sometimes when there were handfuls of mistakes all over the rough draft of a page.
He has taken pictures of everyone from Jesse Jackson to Richard Lugar and scores of people in between. He's taken more mug shots that anyone who ever lived in Logansport, and probably taken as many jumpshots here as anyone ever did.
But like Hoagy Carmichael, he had Georgia on his mind. He's done what he had to do for his family, which has always been his first priority. His second may be the Atlanta Braves. He once advocated drafting Francisco Cabrera for president after he propelled the Braves to the World Series.
Whenever we think of great people who kept a difficult job in perspective, we can picture a guy who made a living taking more newspaper pictures in Logansport than anyone who ever lived.
Dave Kitchell is a columnist for the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sorry, there are no recent results for popular commented articles.