U of S | Mailing List Archive | alt-photo-process-l | Re: black fingernails, et al, was Re: Paper - baby oil Digi Negs

Re: black fingernails, et al, was Re: Paper - baby oil Digi Negs

Hi All,

I was curious about Steve's comments so I dropped John Sexton a line to hear what he knew about Ansel's last years and days. As many of you already know, Sexton was one of Ansel's longest-term assistants and remained a close friend of Ansel's to the end. There are so many "tales" about, especially when famous people are concerned. Here's John's reply, reproduced here with his permission:

The information you forwarded to me about Ansel is unfortunately not 
quite accurate.

- Ansel had open heart bypass surgery and a heart valve replacement 
on February 14, 1979 - valentine's Day (an appropriate day for heart 
surgery don't you think!).  Ansel passed away on April 22, 1984 - 
more than five years following his heart surgery.

- Ansel was in deteriorating health for a number of months prior to his death.

- I have never heard anything about Ansel indicating he wished he had 
never had his heart surgery.  During the time that I worked for him 
full time (from 1979 to 1982), he had nothing but positive comments 
about the results of his surgery.alt-photo-process-l@usask.ca

- Ansel did request that his remains be examined for any evidence of 
harm from photographic chemicals.  Pathology was done locally and at 
the CDC on some of Ansel's remains.  There was no evidence of any 
adverse health issues from photographic chemicals.  However, it was 
clearly stated by various individuals that studied Ansel's remains 
that it would be highly unlikely there would be any direct evidence 
of adverse effects from photographic chemicals.  So, in a nutshell, 
nothing was really learned.

I hope this clarifies a little bit about the end of Ansel's life.  I 
had lunch with him two days before he passed away.  He had just 
returned from the doctor, and was definitely feeling very tired.  It 
was however shocking when he was gone in a couple of days.  Ansel had 
a great vitality and passion for life.  His love of photography was 
contagious and, as you know, his teaching was inspiring.

Hope this helps clear things up.


On Sep 13, 2009, at 2:33 PM, SteveS wrote:

Ansel died of heart failure two years after his open heart bypass surgery.  He felt so good, he just didn't believe them when they said take it easy.
He donated his body to science to offer proof that photography had no effect on our health.  He was proven right.
On his death bed, he said he'd wished he'd never had the surgery.
S. Shapiro