James F. Lally, an affable, fun-loving photographer for the old News American who began his career at the newspaper in 1947 as a copy boy, died Tuesday at Memorial Hospital in Easton of kidney failure. He was 68.
After retiring from the now-defunct Hearst paper in 1980, where he had been a photographer since the early 1950s, he was a staff photographer for the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels. He retired again in 1994.
Mr. Lally had lived in St. Michaels since 1978.
"He was a reliable old-time newspaper photographer who always got the picture you wanted," said William Stump, former News American editorial page editor. "For all of his tough-guy image, there was a touch of the artist about him. He was not a poseur, and everyone liked him."
Dick Tomlinson, another former News American photographer, said of Mr. Lally: "He could be catching hell about something and then would say his favorite saying, 'And that's show biz.'
"I must have heard him say that a couple of million times.
"He was unassuming, the kind of person who never took anything seriously. The walls could be falling down, and he'd find something funny to say about it. He found humor in everything and anything."
Mr. Tomlinson worked for the Hearst paper from 1953 until its closing in 1986.
"Despite being a hard news photographer, he brought a lighthearted side to the job and, believe me, he did some darn good stuff during the 1950s and 1960s," Mr. Tomlinson said.
Vernon Price, a photographer who worked for the newspaper between 1946 and 1981, recalled a particular Lally photograph.
"One of his outstanding pictures -- which won a prize -- was taken during Hurricane Hazel in 1954 and showed two people hanging onto the hawser of a vessel they were trying to tie up during the storm at the Naval Academy," Mr. Price said.
Mr. Lally was born and raised in the Green Spring Valley, the son of Dr. Leo and Hazel McClintock Lally. He was a 1943 graduate of Calvert Hall and earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Maryland College Park in 1947.
"His hobbies? He liked cleaning and puttering around the house," said his wife of 17 years, the former Ellen Needles.
"In fact, his nickname was Mr. Clean, and he'd make us go outside the house while he ran the vacuum cleaner," she said with a laugh.
He also enjoyed reading history. He was a member of Easton Elks Lodge No. 1622.
A memorial service is to be held at 11 a.m. today at Christ Episcopal Church in St. Michaels, where he was a member.
Other survivors include three daughters, Barbara Ford, Lynn Goucher and Nancy Lee Daniels, all of Baltimore; three stepsons, David Blalock of Baltimore, John O. Blalock of Bel Air and A. Gordon Blalock of Onancock, Va.; and 11 grandchildren.
Memorial donations may be made to the Memorial Hospital Foundation for the General Nursing Fund, P.O. Box 1846, Easton 21601.