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Post-Gazette Photos of the Year

Sunday, December 28, 2003

So many funerals, so much grief.

That was the first thing we noticed when re-examining local images from 2003. The lives lost during the continued violence in Iraq and gunfire in the streets of Allegheny County, including a record number of homicides in August, left a mournful trail that reminds us how lucky we are when other moments present themselves: the Pittsburgh skyline bathed in a colorful fog, Terry Bradshaw and Chuck Noll making nice at the Dapper Dan sports banquet and soldiers' happy reunions with their families.

Presented here are photos that represent the biggest local stories of the year -- among them, the death of Fred Rogers, the hepatitis A outbreak that started in a Beaver County restaurant and the city of Pittsburgh's financial woes.

Other images are here because they were dear to the hearts of Post-Gazette photographers and give them the chance to be seen as well as heard, through comments that bring the reader into the moment as they focused and "clicked."



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Photographer: Darrell Sapp
Published Oct. 7

This foggy skyline shot that heralded autumn sunshine and warm temperatures was a favorite of readers in 2003.

"I was on the West End Bridge to photograph steam coming off the river," Sapp says, "and the fog surrounded the city skyline. I think reaction to the photo shows great fondness for the city."

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Photographer: Bob Donaldson
Published March 5

Jessica Hawryliak of Butler said goodbye to her fiance, Cpl. Pierre Brudnicki, shortly before his unit, the 319th Engineering Company, left the Butler U.S. Army Reserve Center for active duty at Fort Lee, Va.

The reservists spent 30 days at Fort Lee and then were sent overseas.

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Photographer: John Beale
Published Jan. 7

Beale: "1/1500 of one second. Blink and it's gone. That's the moment in time captured in this photograph. Still, some things I was able to control: choosing the lens, selecting the camera settings, kneeling for a low angle and keeping the players in focus. But having an unobstructed view of Antwaan Randle El when he nearly got his head torn off by Cleveland safety Chris Atkins? That had everything to do with luck."

"'That picture must have been digitally altered,' a Browns fan said to me after the image was projected during an induction weekend banquet at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. 'Why do you say that,' I asked. 'A Cleveland player would never pull the facemask of a Pittsburgh Steeler,' he said with a snicker."




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Photographer: Steve Mellon
Published Nov. 9

Donald Bucklew and family comforted each other at the burial of his wife, Mary Ellen, and his son, Ernest, who was killed in Iraq while on his way home for his mother's funeral.

It was a cold day and huddled photographers "breathed into our hands to keep them warm," Mellon says. "Then the funeral procession arrived. Motor drives on the cameras whirred quietly. Otherwise there was only silence. Pallbearers carried the caskets to the gravesite. We saw the father look skyward. I heard someone nearby sob. Then it was silent - the sound of a truly broken heart."




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Photographer: Martha Rial
Published Feb. 13

Headlines last week warned of the country being on "high alert" for a terrorist attack, but at the beginning of the year, they told of terrorists, chemical weapons and duct tape.

In the spirit of being prepared, the Campman family of Ross bought batteries, food, diapers and a space heater. And they took other precautions suggested by federal officials: Mikaela Campman, 2, watched as her father, Matthew, taped plastic on the outside of their bathroom window.

Rial found the Campmans while trying to recruit families who were loading up on plastic sheeting, duct tape and other supplies at the Home Depot in Ohio Township. "The Campmans probably thought I was crazy about approaching them," she said, "but this charming family went the extra mile because they care so much about their young daughters."




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Photographer: Andy Starnes
Published June 8

Twelve members of the 171 Air Refueling Wing returned from Iraq June 7.

Master Sergeant Matt Vybiral of Reserve, the troop commander of the squadron, was greeted by his daughter, Danielle, 4, moments after getting off the plane.

Starnes reflects, "Wouldn't it be a wonderful New Year's gift to all of our military families to bring all of our soldiers home?"

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Photographer: Tony Tye
Published March 31

Swissvale and Edgewood police used pepper spray to clear anti-war protesters from Braddock Avenue after about 200 marchers made their way there from Downtown. There were three arrests, including Gwendolyn Schmidt of Mount Washington; all three were charged with disorderly conduct, obstructing roadways and failure to disperse.

At the same time, about 1,500 people turned out for a rally in Cranberry in support of American troops.

To have her record expunged, Schmidt agreed to perform 100 hours of community service, including placing flags on graves of veterans at Braddock Hills Catholic Cemetery for Memorial Day.




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Photographer: Martha Rial
Published Feb. 28

Natalie Nyman, a student at St. Cyril of Alexandria Elementary School in Brighton Heights, was among those saying goodbye to a beloved neighbor, Fred Rogers.

The children's advocate and creator of "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood" died Feb. 27 of stomach cancer.

"Although these children were visibly touched by Mister Rogers, "Rial says, "I think it was the adults who struggled the most with their emotions when they woke up that morning and heard he was gone."




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Photographer: Steve Mellon
Published May 4

Mellon recalls: "Joanne Rogers greeted a number of people shortly before the memorial service for her husband, Fred, at Heinz Hall," among them, friend and author, Jeanne Marie Laskas, right.

"I tried to stay back and shoot pictures only when it was appropriate. Joanne was gracious in allowing me to be there. Fred Rogers meant a lot of things to a lot of people. He was also a father and a husband. It seemed important to make a picture that said something about both sides of the man."




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Photographer: Tony Tye
Published June 17

Alexys Smith, 4, of Evans City bonded with a sculpture at the opening of Children's Garden and Early Childhood Center at the Western Pennsylvania School for Blind Children in Oakland.

"The assignment was to photograph a tree planting in the garden of a new building, "Tye says.

"The tree planting itself did not produce a photo that I thought said anything interesting. So I stood back to see if anything else would happen, and sure enough this little girl came along and started to feel the surface of the sculpture. And I had my picture."




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Photographer: Bill Wade
Published Sept. 13

Austin Jones, 5, who suffers from sickle cell anemia, wore a protective mask to meet the media after his bone marrow transplant at Children's Hospital. It was the first such transplant performed in our region; the donor was Austin's 11-year-old brother, Anthony.

"I was really taken with the young boy's sense of calm, shown in his eyes," Wade says, "so I concentrated on a tight photo that would reflect this. Austin was in his mother's lap at a press conference while questions were asked of the doctors and his parents. He had just been through a bone marrow transplant. I thought, 'He is a strong little man.'"

Austin is past the post- transplant 100-day milestone and being schooled at home for now. Sarah Jones, his mother, told Wade last week, "Austin is doing really well. We're feeling really positive about the future."




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Photographer: Darrell Sapp
Published June 19

Here, says Sapp, is what you don't see in this image: "I was handed this assignment [to cover a sentencing] at 8 a.m., and I had a fit when I realized I needed to be at the courthouse by 8:30. So I went up kicking and screaming because I had so much work to do. ... The defendant, Jonathan Bouldin, was escorted into Common Pleas Judge Robert Colville's third-floor courtroom. Patricia Keele walked to the microphone and said she forgave Bouldin for stabbing her son Anthony to death, but that he must be punished. After the sentencing, she did not want to speak to the media. But walking down the hallway, she changed her mind and came back.

Patricia Keele spoke with pride and love about her son, and about holding him in her arms as he died. She pulled a photo of Anthony out of her purse and shared it with us. She had great dignity, grace and compassion to talk with us at that moment. She was dealing with her son's death. I was just dealing with work."

Bouldin, who said he was "truly sorry" when he pleaded guilty to third-degree murder, was sentenced to 20 to 40 years, plus a consecutive term of five to 10 years for burglary.




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Photographer: Robin Rombach
Published May 19

"I was on my way to another assignment and saw the smoke rising over the South Side," recalls Rombach, who arrived to find an Allentown building in flames.

Watching the fire were Cailyn Richards, 6, and her brother Johnny, 8, whose mother had worked in the building on East Warrington Avenue. They were comforted by their aunt, who chose not to be identified.

Rombach made this image because "their look said more about the moment than the flames that destroyed the building."




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Photographer: Bob Donaldson
Published Feb. 26

Amish contractor Seth Byler worked with a carpenter's square to figure how far to jack up a beam that sports original tool marks in the 1805 barn restored by Historic Harmony Inc.

Byler, with his sons Jonas and John, used simple tools and a lifetime of experience to make crucial repairs to the barn on Mercer Road in Jackson, originally built by the Harmonist Society to shelter sheep.

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Photographer: Darrell Sapp
Published Jan. 7

Tire tracks etched in a North Side parking lot near PNC Park became "a gift of nature" for the photographer, who was looking for pictures among the early morning commuters just arriving for work after daybreak.

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Photographer: Robin Rombach
Published Aug. 11

Mayor Murphy walked through a heckling crowd of Pittsburgh police officers and their supporters after meeting with the Fraternal Order of Police executive board to discuss layoffs.

"It was a tense situation," Rombach says. "I give Murphy credit for coming out right through that crowd. No one expected him to walk through that rowdy crowd."

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Photographer: Annie O'Neill
Published Aug. 12

Officer Dan Honan, right, in uniform, and other officers and their families and supporters listened as Fraternal Order of Police president Gene Grattan spoke from the steps of the City-County Building after a meeting of police union and city officials, in which Mayor Murphy offered a deal to save police jobs if 52 veteran officers would agree to early retirement.




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Photographer: Joyce Mendelsohn
Published Feb. 8

With his family and Gov. Ed Rendell (far right) by his side, Dan Onorato gets his campaign for Allegheny County executive under way on Feb. 7. "The thing I like was that during his speech ... his family had smiles 'glued' on their faces. I was sure someone had told them to smile and they were taking it seriously ... everyone except the youngest [Danny, 6]. The boy was fidgeting much of the time during his father's speech. I thought, 'This is wonderful. A real moment among all the posed political doings.'"

Onorato was voted into office last month, unseating incumbent Jim Roddey. At left are Kate, 11; Onorato's wife, Shelly; and Emily, 9.




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Photographer: J. Monroe Butler II
Published Aug. 31

The Post-Gazette chronicled a violent month filled with gunfire in "The Guns of August." There were 19 homicides -- including one at 12:36 on the morning of Aug. 31 -- in Allegheny County that month, exceeding the 16 in the same month of 1993.

Among the victims was Anthony Patton, 20, of East Liberty, who was found shot in the street.

"At first I was reluctant about shooting a funeral," Butler says, "but after being there and seeing all the tombstones of the young teens that were in the cemetery who lost their lives to crime and gun violence, I thought that it was especially important that people should see the direct result of the violence that ended August of 2003."




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Photographer: John Beale
Published Jan. 2

The Polar Cubs joined the adult Bears to take the New Year's Day plunge into the Ohio River near the Carnegie Science Center.

Jumpers included members of the Wiedenhofer family, from left, siblings Jamie, Alex and Stefan of Sheraden and their cousin Hans of Avalon.

"There have been times when the local Polar Bear Club has had to break the ice to make their New Year's morning plunge," says Beale. "This year, it was cold [water temperature was 36 degrees] and pouring rain. While most swimmers were soaked before they ever hit the water, several decided to test their endurance to see how long they could stay in the cold water. I couldn't stay to watch. In Beaver County, a group was gathering to go water-skiing."




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Photographer: John Heller
Published June 24

After a week of unseasonably cool weather, the temperature Downtown hit 87. Beating the heat of the early summer day, Uma Ross, 2, of Mt. Lebanon romped through the fountain in the courtyard at PPG Plaza, Downtown.

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Photographer: Steve Mellon
Published Aug. 3

Steve Landon of Memphis, Tenn., and Max-Air Productions vaulted from a trampoline to soar above Point State Park as part of the Pittsburgh Three Rivers Regatta festivities.

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Photographer: Peter Diana
Published Dec. 15

The Steelers and Jets pushed and slid their way through swirling winds and snow that often covered the Meadowlands, N.J., field on Dec. 14.

Here, the ball is out of the reach of Jets cornerback Ray Mickens, left, and Steelers receiver Hines Ward, just as the game eluded their grasp. The Steelers fell, 6-0, as Tommy Maddox threw eight straight incomplete passes to end the game.

Says Diana, "I can't see how anyone could catch a football in that weather."




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Photographer: Robin Rombach
Published Feb.10

Terry Bradshaw, quarterback through four Steelers Super Bowl championships, chose his induction into the Dapper Dan Charities Pittsburgh Hall of Fame as a time to make amends with his coach through his Hall of Fame career, Chuck Noll.

"If I could reach down in my heart, I would say I'm sorry for every unkind word and thought I ever had. I mean that," he told 1,700 patrons at the Pittsburgh Hilton and Towers. Noll said it was "a real, real pleasure" to introduce Bradshaw that night.




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Photographer: V.W.H. Campbell Jr.
Published Aug. 3

Todd Johnson of McKeesport got into character as Ghost in the Head, a Huron warrior on a mission to kill Col. Henry Bouquet, leader of the British troops at the battle of Bushy Run 240 years ago.

Johnson's body paint was applied with the traditional base of bear grease and was meant to shock and frighten the opponent.

Bushy Run battlefield is in Harrison City, Westmoreland County.

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Photographer: Pam Panchak
Published Jan. 2

After 39 years in business, Joe Brozovich, 67, closed Broz Market, a Lawrenceville convenience store at 45th and Davison streets. It was usually open seven days a week and the selection was huge -- light bulbs to lunch meat, soup to syrup -- and the prices were revelations, too: penny candy, 90 cents for a half-gallon of iced tea and $3 for a pack of smokes.

Customer Debra Rozycki of Lawrenceville stopped by to give Brozovich a farewell hug.




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Photographer: Joyce Mendelsohn
Published Jan. 23

The assignment was to get a photo at the Downtown shelter at Smithfield United Church, and Mendelsohn recalls: "Often as a photographer, we are told, 'I don't want my picture taken' or 'You can't shoot that.' That's what I was told at this homeless shelter, but I knew I had to come back with something for a shelter story on a freezing night. The contact we were given wasn't there and wasn't available. Those in charge knew nothing about the media coming, and they had a policy of 'no photos.' I guess what I remember is that even though I was told 'no photos,' I was able to come up with something to illustrate the story."

In this case, it was volunteer coordinator, James "Moon" Johnson, right, taking the names of people seeking shelter on a sub-20-degree night.




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Photographer: Robert J. Pavuchak
Published Nov. 9

On a clear autumn night, sky watchers had a spectacular view of a total eclipse of the moon.

A lunar eclipse occurs when the moon, Earth and sun are in alignment and the moon passes through the planet's shadow. Lunar eclipses are expected May 4 and Oct. 28 next year, but the first will not be visible from North America, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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Photographer: John Beale
Published Nov. 28

To hear Beale tell it, "Late on the Friday afternoon when U.S. officials announced that hepatitis A outbreak in Pennsylvania had been linked to Mexican green onions, reporter Lillian Thomas and I were sent to Mexico. Saturday morning at 9:30 a.m., we were on a flight to California. When our plane landed in San Diego five hours later, we got a message that we were to head to the Mexican border and try to file a story that night.

Around sunset, we pulled into a truck stop in the town of Otay Mesa near the border. After talking with truckers inside, I noticed a girl caring for a younger child in the cab of an 18-wheeler. Their mother was standing outside the truck, a young baby wrapped inside her coat.

Alma Gomez explained in Spanish that her husband, Roberto Gomez, 29, drives seven days a week, hauling vegetables from Mexico to California distribution centers. He is paid about $40 to $50 per two-day trip. Because he's home so rarely, most weekends he takes his wife and three children along.

A week later, I stood at a salad bar in a suburban Pittsburgh restaurant and wondered: Did the Gomez family help to make this abundance possible?"




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Photographer: Peter Diana
Published Dec. 13

University of Pittsburgh receiver Larry Fitzgerald carried home the Biletnikoff Award as college football's best receiver and finished oh-so close to Oklahoma quarterback Jason White in voting for the Heisman Trophy. White gathered 319 first-place votes and 1,481 total points to narrowly beat Fitzgerald, a sophomore, who finished second with 253 first-place votes and 1,353 points.

Diana says, "I shot the Pitt-Miami game, and I have a picture of him that was just like that, but the ball was completely covering his face. So I thought, that would be nice to show what he does but see his face. So when I did a portrait, that's how I set it up."




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Photographer: Matt Freed
Published Dec. 6

Pine-Richland's Jim Fawcett collapsed on the snowy Hersheypark Stadium turf after his team's 39-38 loss in double overtime against Manheim Central. The champs won the state Class AAA title with a perfect record; Pine-Richland finished 14-1 after a back-and-forth contest in blizzard-like conditions.

"It was a shame someone would have to go home with a loss after both teams braved the conditions so well in a championship game," Freed says. "While the grounds crew spent the entire game clearing off yard lines, I spent most of this game cleaning snow off my cameras and lenses. We had an early deadline because of the weather, and, of course, the game went into double overtime.

As soon as the game ended, this player fell to the ground and covered his head. I made the photograph and sent it back to the paper as quickly as possible."




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Photographer: Peter Diana
Published June 29

The Penguins took a plunge for the future when they made Marc-Andre Fleury their first-round draft pick, only the third goaltender selected first in the 35-year history of the NHL draft.

We first met the teenager at his home in Sorel-Tracy, Quebec, on what Diana recalls was "a really hot day."

The Fleury family "just went about their business like we weren't there. I saw him dive in the pool when he and his sister were joking around. So she went in again, and then it was his turn, and I got him. ... I was amazed that it seemed everyone in that part of Canada where he lives has a swimming pool."


View more pictures by Post-Gazette photographers in the daily photo journal. The gallery may be searched by photographer, special project or by date.

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