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So long, Bill Darrah — you made our community a better place: Editorial

Posted 9/25/19

One of Bill Darrah’s last posts on Facebook was a picture of Three Mile Island with the quote: “I may regret the way we ended, but I will never regret what we had.”

He was …

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So long, Bill Darrah — you made our community a better place: Editorial

Posted

One of Bill Darrah’s last posts on Facebook was a picture of Three Mile Island with the quote: “I may regret the way we ended, but I will never regret what we had.”

He was referring, of course, to the impending closure of TMI, where he had worked for 36 years.

But Bill’s post could apply to his life as well. The ending came way too soon, at age 62. But my, we will never regret what we had in Bill.

Bill left us Tuesday, Sept. 17, while at work, and just a few days before TMI was shut down for the last time. His reach on the community will never be forgotten by several generations of Blue Raiders and their families.

He loved golf, hockey (especially the Toronto Maple Leafs) and spending time with his family. His obituary on page A3 of this edition lists his family members, and to them we reach out with a giant hug and thanks for sharing him over these years.

His obituary calls him an “avid photographer,” which is an understatement. Bill shot and shot and shot some more, at all types of events tied to Middletown schools. He was a constant at sporting events, of course. But there was also the proms and homecomings and graduations and all types of other events.

For years and years his work appeared in the Press & Journal. Some of his most recent top shots we published were from Middletown’s appearance for the third year in a row in the state championship football game in December, and when standout basketball player Katie Fitzpatrick scored her 1,000th career point last January.

But it wasn’t just the photos that ran in the Press & Journal of the star athletes or key plays. It was all the photos he took that made their way to all the athletes, even when they didn’t have the game-winning goal or the last-inning home run.

His Facebook page is flooding with memories, photos and posts honoring him. These are just a small sampling:

• “We are all better for having known you, Bill Darrah. Thank you for blessing us with your amazing talent and for all of the unforgettable memories you captured just doing what you loved. The hearts of many are heavy tonight. Rest In peace. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Darrah family.”

• “Through his lens, Bill Darrah captured priceless memories of our children and community ... because of the person he was, he captured our hearts. A true role model — kind, caring, wonderful father, kind soul and beloved by all! Rest in peace.”

• “Some of my favorite pictures are the ones where you made my son’s hockey days come to life. You had such a gift. For that we have so many memories. So many lives you have touched and so many hearts are feeling the pain. Thanks for all the memories that will never die because you captured them for all of us.”

And on and on and on the tributes continue.

Let’s not forget that he was just a nice man, and a mentor to other photographers who shared his passion for Middletown.

Jodi Ocker, whose photos have appeared in the Press & Journal regularly over the years, posted on Facebook:

“I’ve been at a loss for the right words for much of the day trying to figure out how to adequately express how this one person made such an impact on my life. I remember first meeting Bill Darrah on a sideline with a camera in his hand and one in mine. It was an instant connection and he quickly became a mentor … he gave me confidence and saw talent in something I couldn’t see. He taught me how to step up and get that picture before the moment was gone. He taught me how to position people and what pics I shouldn’t miss. He taught me about my own camera when I didn’t take the time to learn on my own.”

That’s just part of her touching tribute.

He helped out so many photographers, including Donald Graham, who was the one who called us Sept. 17 to share the news.

We are including here a few photos of Bill in action — the other side of the lens from what we normally featured in the Press & Journal.

We want to close by saying thank you to Bill for all he did for us and the community. It doesn’t feel like enough. But we will say it again.

Thank you.

For those of us who are grieving, make sure you hug your loved ones and enjoy your life like Bill did.

Life is a fleeting journey whose end often comes without warning.

Another of Bill’s last Facebook posts was a link to a video from the “Today” show discussing the photographers who took pictures at Woodstock 50 years ago.

“Long live the photographers who freeze time,” Bill wrote on his page.

Indeed. And long live the memory of Bill Darrah.