Tuesday, February 7, 2012

E. O. Goldbeck– The Final Frontier (Part 4)

E. O. Goldbeck led a remarkable life in so many different ways. He left a legacy of art, invention, pioneering, entrepreneurship, service, and family. On top of these numerous successes he lived a good long life of nearly a century. He almost had to have lived this long (94 years) in order to pack in so much.

I mentioned previously that I had obtained a signed and numbered copy of "The Panoramic Photography of Eugene O. Goldbeck." The fact that Goldbeck had signed this book just shortly before he died caused me to investigate the circumstances of his death. Online I was able to find the obituary that had appeared locally. As is customary, the obit recorded the details of his funeral and ultimate burial.

I was intrigued that his burial plot was located in Mission Burial Park South– near the San Antonio River and not more than a mile or so from the place I was mainly working at that time. I made plans to take an hour or so to pay a visit to Mission Park South, and attempt to locate his gravesite.

Driving in the cemetary's entrance, I stopped at the office and eventually found the folks who could help me out. I spoke with one of the ladys in the office and told her whose grave I wanted to locate. She entered the name into her computer and instantly had the plot's ID and location. She then circled a spot on a small xeroxed map of the pertinent section of the cemetary and handed it to me. After she gave me simple directions for driving to the section, I thanked her for her help and left the office. I could hardly believe how simple and quick this had been.

After driving for some distance (Mission Park South is quite extensive) I located the section and the approximate location of the Goldbeck family plot. I parked my car, gathered my photo equipment, and then made my search on foot for the gravesite. About fifty feet or so from the road, I saw before me a dark gray granite, upright simple memorial with the Goldbeck family name engraved prominently on it. I had found Goldbeck's "resting place."

Eugene and Marcella Goldbeck's burial plot, © Bill Brockmeier, 2010, all rights reserved by the artist

Next to the family marker was a flat granite rectangular stone, level with the ground, and engraved—

"Our Dear Dad
Eugene Omar Goldbeck
Nov 4, 1892—October 26, 1986."

Next to Gene's grave was that of his longtime wife, Marcella (interestingly, my own wife's middle name). Marcella lived an even longer life than Gene– attaining the age of 97 years. In the adjacent row were markers for some of their children who had preceded them in exiting this existence.

So– here lies the great, inventive master of panoramic photography himself. I thought out loud– "What could be more fitting than to compose a panoramic photograph of his gravesite?" I believe that Gene himself would have concurred heartily.

I assembled my gear and composed several different panoramic shots over the next hour or so. As I was setting up each one, I wondered how Gene might have approached such a challenge. Perhaps he would build a 200 foot tall tower and photograph the entire west section of the cemetary, including 2500 individual graves visible in a single photograph.

I finished my photographic exploration of the Goldbeck family plot and put away my equipment. Before I headed back to my vehicle, I thanked God for this man who so enjoyed stretching the limits of the photographic arts. What an example for myself.
Homage To "A Crazy Man," © Bill Brockmeier, 2010, all rights reserved by the artist
A final note– you'll notice my title to the image just above: "Homage To 'A Crazy Man.'"  This may seem a bit cryptic to you, but is a reference to Goldbeck's summary of himself: "You'd have to be a crazy man to do what I do." And superimposed on Gene's grave is my own shadow as I composed the shot, emulating a fairly famous photograph of him (below) waving his arms wildly as he enthusiastically directed a composition.

E. O. Goldbeck Directs a Shot
(authorship unknown)

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