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 EDITORIAL: Andrew was one of a kind


Photo by Andrew Ortega

(Sept. 2, 2010) — You may not have known Rutherford’s Andrew Ortega personally, but chances are you probably saw some of his photographs. This ambitious 13-year-old who left us too early Saturday, Aug. 28, had a brief, but special relationship with The Leader.

I still remember the day when he walked in to our office with a camera in his hand, a friend by his side and enthusiasm in his eyes. He had just returned from the demolition of the old rectory at St. Mary’s Church. His mission was to convince this local news editor to publish his pictures.

He made a very convincing case. His pictures were great. His sales pitch was better. He even handed me a business card that he made with his friend for another one of his entrepreneurial ventures. The card read: Dos Amigos Lawn Maintenance Services. Andrew was listed as the president.

This young man, who was only 12 years old when I first met him, gave off the aura of a person three times his age. He was ready to take on the world. He presented himself with a professionalism that is rare in any business setting.

In today’s world of young teenagers making their way through the routine of academics, sports and community life, Andrew seemed to stand out. He held a thoughtful conversation with most of the adults here at The Leader. He followed up with me over the phone to make sure the photographs would work for our publication. He stopped by from time to time with more stories and pictures from the road.

When I came into work Monday, Aug. 30, I didn’t find any more pictures or phone messages from Andrew. I did find an e-mail from Collins Calhoun Funeral Home with the unfortunate news of his obituary and the mournful thoughts of his family members.

To lose any life is a tragedy, especially for the friends and family who knew the deceased person on an intimate level. But to lose a life so young is almost impossible to put into words.

I am extremely happy to have known Andrew, even if it was only for a few fleeting minutes. He impressed me more than most people I have met in my life.

I will hold on to his business card.

He was our star photographer — a person whose pictures we were more than happy to publish on our front page. As a very small tribute, we have decided to reprint one of his iconic shots of the demolition of the old rectory at St. Mary’s.

Typically, our newspaper puts “Photo courtesy of” in the credit line to let the readers know that the picture was submitted to The Leader. For in-house photographs we write, “Photo by.” It’s a small distinction, but one that clearly says when a photo is either given to The Leader by an outside person or is actually taken by a staff member.

For the reprint of Andrew’s photo at the top of this page, we thought it appropriate to make him part of The Leader family and so we put “Photo by.”

We’ll forever miss one of our best photographers.

— John Soltes / Editor in Chief

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