The Eagle lost another alum this week. LuVerne Paine, the first woman to be hired on the Eagle’s photo staff died this week at age 91. I visited LuVerne last year on her 90th birthday and despite failing health at that time she still had fond memories of her many years spent at the Eagle.
I talked with Charlie Rollins this morning and he gave me some details on LuVerne’s career, a lot I didn’t know. Charlie was a longtime Eagle photographer later to become chief photographer who hired me back in 1979. He remembers LuVerne starting at the Eagle in the early 1950’s. LuVerne in the 1950’s.Charlie said her main job back then was to receive and send AP and UPI wire photos. She later moved into the darkroom to help print photo reprints and maintain the darkroom chemistry. As her knowledge of photography increased, she was asked to take on many photo assignments in our studio. There she shot probably thousands of portraits and whatever else needed to be shot in the studio.
She was the lone woman on an all male photo staff but LuVerne had the tempermant to hold her own amongst the crustiest of photojournalists, and back in the 50’s they were pretty crusty.
When photographers were first hired LuVerne took it upon herself to let them know the right and wrong way to maintain the studio or darkroom. And as I remember, if you got under her skin she’d let you know about it with no uncertain terms. I think Jerry Clark got under her skin every once in a while. Jerry was a longtime Wichita Beacon photographer who came over to the competition (The Eagle) when the paper merged in the sixties. I can recall at least a few arguments between the two back in the darkroom, perhaps remnants of our newspaper rivalries. But none of those arguments ever lasted too long and were never remembered the next day.
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LuVerne was well liked by everyone who worked with her and everyone I’ve talked to this morning had nothing but good things to say about her. I guess she was pretty much a pioneer in the local newspaper business. The first woman Eagle photographer…no one else can say that LuVerne. It was good to know you.
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