Several years ago I was playing with a band at the Hancock bandstand, as part of a summer concert series. I noticed Bill Gnade, with a camera as usual. At the time he was contributing regularly to The Sentinel, and I was always amazed at his ability to capture things that were just a little bit different.
I wondered what he would submit from this event — a perfect summer evening. Of course I entertained a vain hope that it would be some unusual shot of our band. Or it might have been a dramatic sunset with the church steeple. What was published, however, was a closeup of a grandmother, sitting on the lawn with her grandson, maybe around 4 years old, in her lap. It was the sweetest picture and something that apparently stood out for him among all the possibilities for that evening.
A couple of years later my daughter, visiting from Wisconsin, wanted to hire a photographer for some family photos when she, her husband, and our incredibly cute grandchildren were visiting. I contacted Bill, asking if he would do the shoot, and we also included an invitation to a cookout and a hike up a nearby hill. This gave everyone a chance to get comfortable. When we actually began the photo session, he had somehow processed information he had learned about everyone and factored it into his coaching us into creative and fun poses. The kids were delighted (and so were we).
While I had known Bill casually for a long time, that was really the only time where we connected in a more personal way. I have often reflected on what a privilege it was to spend that evening with him, and it becomes a more treasured memory now that he has left the world. Thank you, Bill, for your significant contributions of talent and spirit.