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RCC lost a great mentor, friend and leader on January 29, 2014 when Jess Wall passed away at the age of one hundred years, six months and twenty-four days. While our newer members may not have known Jess except as the gentleman who celebrated his hundredth birthday at the club's July barbecue potluck last year, we all owe him a debt of gratitude for what he did for RCC back in the dark days of the early and mid-1980s. It was a time when membership had dropped perilously close to the breaking point. The roster showed few members, and even fewer came to meetings. Jess agreed to serve as President, and his late wife Esther turned to her typewriter to keep the Photogram alive. Along with Jim Bridges and the late Gertrude Hodson and Ray Doyle, Jess worked hard to make the meetings meaningful, to get the word out to other photo-enthusiasts in the area, and to provide adequate meeting space as the club moved its location several times. Through the many contacts he had made over his decades in the photographic industry, he was able to bring in speakers (and door-prizes) to entice current and prospective members to the club's activities. Jess was always modest about his own experiences, but spending any time with him revealed both depth and breadth in his understanding of the principles of photography, and a love for putting that knowledge to practical use. He had nearly-encyclopedic recall of both well-known and hidden gems of places to shoot, and he was never reluctant about sharing with others. As I've talked with folks who knew Jess over the years, one constant in the discussions has been amazement at what a rich source of knowledge he has been, and the evident pleasure he always derived from giving others the benefit of his wisdom. Even as the ravages of time made it increasingly more difficult for him to get out and exercise his camera in recent years, he never lost his enthusiasm for everything photographic. If on a given day all he was up to was talking about taking pictures, or the gear he would use if he could, he did so with gusto. Jess was no one-trick pony, however. He loved many beautiful aspects of life, and delighted in sharing the music of Bach or the history of art or observations about the latest discoveries in astronomy with anyone of similar interests. Jess's generosity is legend. When you browse the club's expansive lending library, take a moment to reflect on the library's beginnings in the generous donations of books he made to kick off that important member benefit. As he became less able to get out into a photogenic world, he continued to serve the club through book, equipment and film reviews he wrote for the Photogram. When he learned of the need for a new digital projector for use in our expanded classes and workshops, he wrote a significant check to get that project underway. None of this was done to focus attention on the giver; his acts were those of a caring and giving spirit. Even well into his eighties, Jess was usually up for a trip to some exotic location for photography. Whether it was chasing after a pair of steam locomotives in a race to the top of Cajon Pass or a week of RV camping in Utah's scenic splendors, Jess was always engaged and engaging. Two things could surely be counted on: expanding our horizons and having fun in the process. Here was a man who loved life and took delight in sharing it. We extend our deepest condolences to Jess's daughters and their families, the grandchildren and great-grandchildren he always spoke of with great pride. He has left an indelible mark on the Redlands Camera Club and in the hearts of all of us who enjoyed the privilege of sharing his time among us. Fair winds and following seas, good friend. Frank Peele
Jess Wall
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