‘Three-Shot Harvey’ leaves legacyPublished 9:03pm Saturday, September 29, 2012
They called him “Three-Shot Harvey” because in the days before digital, he always took three shots of every photo to make sure he got a good one.
Harvey White, who worked for the Suffolk News-Herald as a staff and freelance photographer for five decades, died at home on Wednesday, surrounded by his family.
White was widely known in Suffolk for photographing events and everyday life — kids riding their bicycles, playing in their yards and getting on the school bus. In addition to working for the newspaper, he owned his own photography business and a studio that developed film and restored old photos.
Family members, former colleagues and community members reflected on his life this week.
“As long as he was behind the camera, it was all good,” said his daughter Carla Bugg, who reflected that she never heard her father swear or say anything bad about anybody.
White started working for the News-Herald in the late ‘50s, developing film in the darkroom and working in the pre-press area, his daughters said. He met his first wife, who also worked for the paper.
It was around the same time that he picked up a camera and learned how to use it. It wasn’t long until he was training others.
Laura Solomon, who now owns a photography business, recalled this week that White mentored her in the business 25 years ago, even though he was essentially training his competition.
“He never really looked at it that way,” she said. “He was just trying to help somebody else. He taught me how to do it.”
Solomon said White often joked about their friendly rivalry when they saw each other at Main Street United Methodist Church on Sunday mornings.
“He would always have a joke and something to tease me about,” she said. “He would say, ‘I’ve got six weddings this afternoon. How many do you have?’ He always had a laugh for me.”
White was well-known for his sense of humor — but perhaps not so much to people who had just met him.
Former managing editor Stephen Cowles, who worked for the newspaper for 20 years, recalled that White often glared at him and “wouldn’t give me the time of day” when Cowles first started at the newspaper in 1984. It took Cowles a little while to realize it was White’s way of having fun.
“He would just give me these baleful looks, as if my very presence bothered him,” Cowles said. “Of course, it was all in fun. He was pulling my leg.”
Another former managing editor, Luefras Robinson, worked with White at the newspaper for about eight years.
“He was sort of like a father figure in many ways,” she said. “He had a good sense of humor but would always drop a dose of wisdom. He was such a mainstay and fixture around Suffolk.”
Yet another former managing editor, Tim Copeland, said White was unique and fun to be around.
“Harvey’s one of those guys that you get to work with and it’s a privilege to have worked with him,” Copeland said. “He was full of stories and as dependable as the day is long.”
For Linda Bunch, executive director of the Suffolk Art League, White’s dependably frequent visits to the Suffolk Art Gallery (formerly the Suffolk Museum) were a huge help in publicizing their programs. She’s the one who told the story about why White was called “Three-Shot Harvey.”
“He was just so wonderful to us at the art league and the gallery,” she said. “He’d check in with us on a regular basis and keep our picture and name in the paper. He was always interested and just a genuinely nice person.”
White’s morning rituals also were well-known in the community. Over the years, he jumped from the Holiday Inn to Hardee’s to Chick-fil-A, but he was always somewhere getting breakfast and coffee.
“He’s just always been an institution in Suffolk,” Solomon said. “If there was a football game or a car race or a parade, you always saw Harvey White.”
To his family, White’s photography was what kept food on their table, but it also provided a sense of enjoyment. Daughter LuAnne Casper worked with her father at the SureShot Photo on Washington Street for more than a decade, and Carla Bugg begged to go to work with him when she heard him wake up in the middle of the night.
“I used to love going to the wrecks with him,” Bugg said, recalling that her father was wide awake after hearing the codes for a fire or car accident but slept through the rest of the chatter on the police scanner. “I always thought that was the coolest thing. But I never saw anything. He made me stay in the car.”
White’s second wife, Betty White, said this week there would never be another like him.
“He was a really good man and a good husband,” she said. “He was just really funny and weird.”
White’s daughters by his first marriage said their father found his true love in their stepmother.
“He found his soul mate and true love in Betty,” Bugg said.
White, who was 77, had been in declining health in the past two or three years. Last month, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 adrenal sarcoma cancer in the lung, which is not caused by smoking. Options were quickly exhausted, and he was brought home to be on hospice care. But he was still laughing, family members said.
“He would do tricks all the time, right on up to right before he passed away,” granddaughter Jessica York said. When she asked if he was angry that furniture had been moved around to accommodate his hospital bed, he said, “Yes, I am.”
“Then he busted out laughing,” York said. “He said my face was hilarious.”
Wise, professional, dependable, loving and funny to the very end, there will never be another Harvey White in Suffolk.