Timothy Vanderweert 1958-2023

This morning, my husband, Timothy Vanderweert, died at 4:04 a.m. Tim’s most recent hospitalization was New Year’s Eve. It was then that he learned that the cancer he had worked so hard to keep at bay had become aggressive and had taken over. If you know Tim personally then you know he was a strong-willed and stubborn man who did not easily accept the word no. And yet – over the 2 years since he was diagnosed with cancer he has always and in every way met the challenges before him and ultimately his own death with dignity and grace. He told me so many times he was not afraid of death or of dying. It was the task of living while knowing he would die that was hard. Tim met this in the way that most defines who he is for me: through his photography and his relationships with all of you who love this art as much as he did. In developing the (100’s) of rolls of film he had lying around, reviewing the vast body of work he had created, and in creating a legacy from this wondrous, magical, painful, challenging reflection of our human existence that his work captured, he found meaning and reward in these final months.

Tim has always been the most talented and gifted artist that I have personally known. I know how much not only his art but his thoughts and meanderings on this has meant to all of you. You meant as much to him. When he started this blog it was for his own edification. It became something so much more. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for joining him in this endeavor. You pushed him to think harder and broader and to go to places that we all need someone to go to for us – so that for just a moment, we can share the vision they offer.

Tim’s final week was everything that he and I had talked about, hoped for, and planned for so long. He was here. With me. With our dogs and cats. With our family and friends and neighbors – all those who came from nowhere to hold us both up and help us as we lived through his final days. He fell asleep on Saturday after a visit with an old friend, having spoken to everyone he needed and wanted to speak to, after having completed everything he had set out to do just 6 short months ago. He told me many times he was ready and at peace. This was reflected in every gesture and word he made. It covered him like a blanket in his silence. He did not suffer but slept easily from Saturday on. His death was painless and he was in our home with loved ones around him.

This is not an easy loss for me and it will be a long time before I find solid ground beneath me once again. I know you share that loss for whatever he was to you. He made me promise that on the day he died I would create just one more post to let you know. This then is how I would have you think of his death:

since feeling is first

who pays any attention

to the syntax of things

will never wholly kiss you;

wholly to be a fool\

while Spring is in the world

my blood approves,

and kisses are a better fate

than wisdom

lady I swear by all flowers. Don’t cry

-the best gesture of my brain is less than

your eyelids’ flutter which says

we are for each other; then

laugh, leaning back in my arms

for life’s not a paragraph

and death i think is no parenthesis

ee cummings

12 thoughts on “Timothy Vanderweert 1958-2023

  1. Philippe

    So sad, rest in peace Tim! You were so unique… My gratitude for the great moments I’ve spent reading you, I will miss that but will never forget you. I hope God gives strength to your beloved…

    Reply
  2. Robert Algera

    Donna- Blessings. I went to high school with Tim and we hung out quite a bit. I remember him showing me his darkroom in the garage at the family house in Wayne and his love of the camera the process the photo and his talent was already very evident. He was all about black and white as am I although my photo skills are limited to an old IPhone that I use for my own art. Tim had a wicked sarcastic sense of humor and would have me cryin I’d be laughing so hard. He was quick to laugh and always kept me on my toes. Occasionally he would step on them! Great taste in music. Very mature observations. And always something to say. Of course life takes people in different directions and we eventually lost touch. Recently I had tried to find him on Facebook unsuccessfully but I did find his brothers page and was able to see a few photos of the both of you. Which brought a smile to my face. As he always did. Blessings and I will celebrate his life well lived. Blessings. Robert.

    Reply
  3. Rob Campbell

    I am so, so sorry to read the sad news.

    Tim was one helluva guy who, though we never met, influenced me from the moment I came across his blog. I can only tell you that I feel yet another layer of emptiness come down over the top of my head like a damp, grey blanket.

    This is supposed to be the era of mass communication, of everyone having his/her say, of filling the world with friendship and interesting glimpses into the souls of those masses of us who put pen to paper, as it were, but where the reality is really quite the opposite: we have created a contemporary bedlam out of the opportunity, a cacophony of electronic noise where we sit, isolated, before a screen, hoping to detect a bleep, a sign of a sentient being somewhere out there. With Leicaphilia, for all too brief a while, I found such a signal that I could tune into and visit during the solitary bar lunches, or, as now, when the day’s chores were done, when it was possible to sit and just let the mind travel out of the present space, whether it was a good one or otherwise, always knowing the trip would be worth the taking. Such an interesting, uplifting place to go. I learned a totally different outlook towards photography, so unlike the commercial one that was all, that I guess, I had previously understood.

    Please accept my condolences for your loss. Be strong; Tim would expect nothing less.

    Rob Campbell, Mallorca, Spain.

    Reply
  4. Larry Sawyer

    I am just one of many, many thousands of people who never met Tim, but came to know him through this blog. Came to know the depth of his intellect, his unwavering honesty, his biting sense of humor, his visceral art with the camera, came to know him as best as I could, as someone who would never meet him, but had so, so much in common with him.
    I told my wife a few days ago that Tim’s situation was so unfair. The world is losing a rare soul who touched untold numbers of fellow photographers, armchair philosophers, and everyone who loved a raconteur, and that is how I will think of Tim.
    All of his readers hoped against hope that his cancer would go into remission forever, because he enriched our lives as very, very few people could. My feeling is that we encounter someone like Tim, two, perhaps three times total in one’s entire lifetime.
    You and Tim’s extended family have my deepest sympathy, and please know that my appreciation for photography, and my life, were made so much richer by Tim and his blog.
    May Tim Rest In Peace forever.
    Most Sincerely,
    Larry Sawyer
    Blaine, Minnesota

    Reply
  5. Hank

    My deepest condolences to you and your family. I am so glad Tim was able to pass with his family around him, and in peace. For so many this is not the case.
    Tim was a good guy – we never met except on the blog, but this was my impression of him – a good guy. I am sorry he is gone. The world is a little less rich now.
    All the best to you in what I am sure will be some difficult days ahead.

    Reply
  6. Lee Rust

    Donna,

    I never knew your husband in person, only through his postings, photos and a few emails. So, this evening I scrolled slowly backwards through several years of Leicaphilia… finally pausing at a tribute to Robert Frank… an acclaimed photographer who was definitely on the same stylistic page as Tim.

    With pictures and words we can always look back, but in life we can only move forward. Tim showed us how to do both. He will surely rest in peace, since he was already there at the end.

    With deepest sympathy,

    Lee Rust
    Henrietta, NY

    Reply
  7. Archiver

    Hello, I am so very sorry to read of Tim’s passing. Over the years, I have greatly enjoyed his writings and photography, and the few interactions I’ve had with him through his blog have been thoughtful and convivial. It is wonderfully comforting to read of how he spent these past weeks, and to know that he has been loved and cared for with such grace and completion. Tim lives within us all, through his work and our memories.

    Love and healing to you all from Australia.

    Reply
  8. Dogman

    Inevitable as it might have been, I am still sad.

    Bless you, dear lady. You are in my thoughts. Tim’s memory will remain.

    Reply
  9. David Hamilton

    I’m so sorry for your loss.
    I always looked forward to Tim’s posts as they were always very thought provoking.

    Reply

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