My brother-in-law, Ted Hartwell, died and was buried last week. As you can see from obituaries here, here, and here, Ted was a world-renowned curator of photography for the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. I could never do justice to his career and what it meant for professional photographers so I’ll let those links stand on their own.
I mostly knew Ted outside of his professional life as a husband and father. He was married to my wife’s sister and I spent many holidays and family get-togethers with Ted. One of the favorites was the annual 4th of July party at their house on a bluff overlooking Lake Pepin. They had recently purchased a boat and Ted was giving boat rides all afternoon. I was lucky enough to get a ride on the last trip and you could tell Ted was as happy as a little kid as we motored up and down the Pepin shoreline. It seems odd that a mere 18 hours later he would be stricken down by a heart attack.
Reading the obituaries and listening to the art luminaries at his funeral felt at times strange. They’re talking about Ted Hartwell? The guy who, like me, would steal a little nap after Thanksgiving dinner? The guy who was just fascinated by his kids and how fast they learned to talk? That Ted Hartwell? When I was growing up, I knew a kid who’s dad played for the Vikings (Rip Hawkins). We asked him what it was like to have a dad who was a professional football player. He said that he didn’t know. His dad seemed like everyone else’s: he cut the grass in the summer, yelled at his kids to clean up after themselves, sat in the living room drinking beer and watching sports. It seems that sometimes we forget that celebrities are people too; that really they are just like me and you only their work is better known.
So I’ll miss Ted, he was a kind soul. I will appreciate all he did for the art of photography but I will cherish all that he did for his friends and family.