Bob Ivins

The Union Tribune, probably the largest newspaper in San Diego, ran a contest for Father’s Day ’11 to do a portrait of your father.  The UT was also where both my parents worked (and met). My father Bob Ivins was a photographer there for many years before passing away in 1991. My mom urged me to do the contest, and instead of arguing with her (Standard Operating Procedure), I decided to give it a go. There was a prize involved (which I didn’t win – spoiler alert), but I wasn’t so much interested in it. My mom provided me with a folder of photographs she had of him, from which to choose a photo to base my drawing on.

Looking at the photos, I was reminded of the striking similarities between my and my father – both physically and personally. I have him to thank for my inability to take a serious picture, among other things. He was quite a wacky guy, but also a nice and generous man who was well-liked by most that came into contact with him. The photo I chose seemed to capture almost everything he was in a single shot, including his trademark plaid shirt and even more trademark attitude.

Once I was finished with the piece, I uploaded it to the newspaper’s submission site. Almost immediately I received emails from former co-workers of his who were still working at the Union Tribune, brimming with nothing but the nicest things to say about him. They all had fond memories of him and praised my portrait. It was heartwarming, to say the least, and a reminder of what an exceedingly decent man he was and how much of an impression he left that can still be felt 20 years later. As much as I take after him, I don’t think I’m quite the man that he was, although I certainly try.

In my own way I attempt to carry on his legacy, through creativity and zaniness (and facial hair). This picture was another way of doing so, and despite the fact that I didn’t win the contest, I was glad that I did it. The praise and stories I heard from his friends and co-workers were much more valuable than some baseball tickets.

Bob Ivins

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Comments (7)

  • Wayne Munn Reply

    On the off chance. . .was your father a staff photographer and film processing guru with the Michigan State News in the late 1960s? I worked with Bob Ivins there for a couple years before moving on.

    I have recently returned to photography after many years spent on “the dark side”, corporate IT. I migrated from media of all sorts (photography, fimm and TV, radio production) to IT over a long journey driven by the desire to have regular meals and a room for our family.

    For some weeks I have been preparing for an exhibition of my work. I have also been going through my film archives that start in about 1969. I was a staff photographer with the “State News” and came in as a newbie. Bob Ivins, and his roommate and friend Michael Beasley, were the Top Dogs there. I learned a lot from both of them.

    Those were the heady days of student activism, Vietnam War Protest marches, student riots resulting in a lot of broken store windows, and some scary times after the Kent State Massacre. Once soldiers came storming into an MSU building where students were staging a sit in. I was on assignment at the top of the stairs taking electronic flash shots of the Guard as they came up the stairs. Ah to be young, fearless and stoo-pid.

    I was reviewing some film and saw a couple pictures I took of Bob, one getting an award of some sort from MPPA. I decided to once again see if I could find out anything about him. I asked Micheal B a couple years ago about Bob and he told me that he had died.

    If I’m barking up the wrong tree. . .my apologies. If not I’m happy to share what little bits I have about him. 

    Wayne Munn

    January 13, 2014 at 9:29 pm
    • Nicholas Ivins Reply

      Yeah, I think that was him! He was originally from Michigan and would’ve been in his early 20’s during that time. Always glad to hear he left a positive impression!

      January 14, 2014 at 12:26 am
      • Wayne Munn

        I was looking around on the website and saw a picture of you. . .OMG so very much the Bob I knew back in 1969. And so glad to see that the creative DNA continues to thrive. 

        January 14, 2014 at 7:58 pm
      • bill castanier

        Nicholas I’m working on an article on the Oct. 15 Moratorium March in Lansing in 1969. Your father took the front page photo which I’m going to use in my article. I’m writing it for Lansing City Pulse for the wok of oct 2 or 9.

        September 21, 2019 at 1:05 pm
    • bill castanier Reply

      Wayne I’m working on an article on the 1969 March on the State Capitol on October 15. Bob took the cover photo and I wondering if you had any photographs from that day. Also do you know ho to get in touch with Beasley. I am a writer for Lansing City Pulse and was in that march right behind the peace symbol. Bill

      September 21, 2019 at 1:03 pm
    • Richard Ivins Reply

      Bob’s younger brother here. Bob tragically died long before his time at age 43 in 1991. He had a very good career as a press photographer at the San Diego Union-Tribune. He especially enjoyed shooting Chargers and Padres. Bob kept every negative he ever shot and the huge collection was in his garage in Escondido CA, near San Diego. A photographer’s life is his negatives and Bob kept them neatly filed and catalogued. I have often wondered what became of his work–I fear that it ended up in a landfill somewhere. That would be such a tragedy. Those negs were so important to him. His son has no idea of what was going on with his parents and their impending bitter divorce. He will probably never know. All he knows is what his mother told him. Such a shame. I still live in Niles, MI–down in the southwest corner of the state. richivins@yahoo.com

      February 18, 2023 at 11:56 am
  • Richard Ivins Reply

    Nice to see the references to my late big brother Bob Ivins. He was a really good guy and a great big brother. His life had an almost Forrest Gump flavor in that he seemed to be a witness to history so often. An unimaginable tragedy when he died at only 43 years of age.

    February 18, 2023 at 11:29 am

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