Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Goodbye, Louise Serpa

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2012 at 2:30 PM

Jim Mihalek on HUD, Tucson Rodeo 1971
  • Louise Serpa
  • Jim Mihalek on HUD, Tucson Rodeo 1971

The Range is regrettably late in expressing our condolences to friends and family of rodeo photographer Louise Serpa, who passed away on Jan. 5.

I only met Louise a few times, but she was a wonderful woman and an extraordinary photographer. She took a cherished portrait of my late dog Cricket one summer in Flagstaff.

Emily Wilkins at the New York Times Student Journalism Institute at the UA School of Journalism wrote a lovely obit:

She was elegant, but not dainty; classy, but not snobbish. She would come adorned with jewelry and leave covered in dirt. She dressed like a lady and drank with the boys.

Her strength of character translated to physical toughness, her daughter said. She got close to her subjects, despite the dangers involved. One time a bull charged her. Her ribs were broken, her sternum split. She stood up and finished shooting before going to the hospital.

She was a fixture on the circuit for almost 50 years. As an old woman with bright eyes and a worn face, she was a rodeo staple, lugging a 30-pound bag of equipment around the arena.

She didn’t allow herself to cry at rodeos and wouldn’t allow others to cry when they came to say their final goodbyes, her daughter said.

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