Gazette photographer remembered for having, being character
Old-timers at The Janesville Gazette lost a friend.
Ted Ninman, former chief photographer for the newspaper, died at home at age 73.
If you didn’t know him, Ted could meld into the background. Modest, shy and disheveled, Ted usually didn’t draw attention to himself—unless he was holding a camera and shooting pictures at a fire, traffic wreck or high school football game.
But he had a wild side, occasionally a little wacky.
Back in the day, Ted ran the roads and taverns of Colorado with the late Hunter S. Thompson, world-renowned author and the self-indulgent godfather of gonzo journalism.
Ted stood as a groomsman in Thompson’s wedding party.
Ted would recall playing touch football in knee-deep snow at Thompson’s mountain lair and firing off pistols the size of small cannons with the gun-loving Thompson.
Gazette veterans remember Ted as quick on the draw when it was time to buy another pitcher of beer.
He was also quick to the news.
A former volunteer firefighter in his hometown, Reedsburg, Ted often would get to fires just as the fire trucks did, prompting some firefighters to joke that Ted must have set the fire.
“He was a spot-news dream,” former Gazette editor Mitch Bliss said. “He knew what you wanted, and he got it back before deadline. He was just on top of things.”
Former Gazette photographer Gary Porter, now with the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, recalled Ted lost his teeth in the line of duty.
Ted was photographing a UW-Whitewater football game with his camera on a monopod. Looking through his viewfinder and intent on the play coming toward him, Ted didn’t see the referee dashing down the sideline. And the ref didn’t see him.
Blindsided by the official, Ted crashed into a sideline bench—mouth first.
And newsroom veterans still chuckle about Ted’s response to an edict ordering male staffers to wear neckties.
Ted used a clothespin as a tie clip to keep his cravat out of developing solution in the darkroom. But he didn’t take it off when he went on assignment. Instead, he stuck his assignment slips in the clothespin, keeping them close to his heart.
If you’re a long-time Gazette reader, Ted’s photos illustrated for you many of this community’s triumphs and tragedies. He took the news seriously, but not himself.
We’ll miss him.
Read Gazette Sports Editor Dave Wedeward's column on Ted Ninman