The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

March 17, 2013

Photographer marks 100th birthday

WILLIAMSPORT, Ind. — Robert Wittig had his finger on the pulse of his hometown of Danville for many years.

For 28 years he was the chief photographer at the Commercial-News, chronicling the city and area in an earlier day.

Wittig will mark his 100th birthday Thursday with family and friends.

Wittig, who is in good health, talked about what led to his career at the newspaper. During World War II, he was working at a factory in Danville for 30 cents an hour.

"It was cold," he said.

One day he stopped to see his friend Frank Jackowski at Middle-West Engravers, where he ended up working for four and a half years. Ironically, Middle-West prepared the engravings needed for the pictures at the Commercial-News for the printing process at that time.

Wittig had a chance to come to the Commercial-News, and he was the only full-time photographer for many years. He never knew where he was going to get a photo of an event so it would show up in the newspaper.

He remembers shooting a crowd shot from the top of a building.

"People would stop me and tell me they found themselves in the picture," Wittig said. "That created a good feeling for the paper."

He used to step outside his northside Danville home and shoot fireworks displays over Lake Vermilion.

In his day pictures were taken with a large box camera nicknamed the "Four-by-Five."

"He was very reliable," said Fowler Connell, retired sports editor at the Commercial-News. "He was a professional. He was on top of things."

Wittig would instruct reporters how to take the proper pictures. He retired in February of 1975.

"College kids (who came to the newspaper) tried to talk me into moving," he said. "I didn’t want to move. Danville was my hometown."

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