Joe Weaver, 51, nature photographer who overcame disabling war wound

December 02, 1998|By Robert Hilson Jr. | Robert Hilson Jr.,SUN STAFF

No one could deny Joe Weaver's patience. He'd sit for hours on end in his Jeep, camera in his lap, and wait for just the right moment to snap a picture. Or, he'd sit perched in his wheelchair in a field, his camera slung over his shoulder, from dawn to dusk waiting for the right light to shoot.

To Joe Weaver, the perfect picture meant everything. And if it meant waiting for hours, that was fine with him.

Mr. Weaver, who was paralyzed in 1966 in Vietnam after being wounded, developed a love for photography -- especially still life in Harford County -- after his discharge from the Army. He died Wednesday of cancer at his Fallston home. He was 51.

"Joey had an amazing eye for composition," said his sister, Joan Weaver-Krieg of Baltimore. "He'd take it so everything was perfect. He'd sit and wait and wait until the perfect light was right or the exact moment when the picture would be perfect."

Most of Mr. Weaver's photography was of nature, pictures that reflected the rural Maryland landscape. His work has been displayed in Harford County government buildings and in U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs buildings.

Because Mr. Weaver's used a wheelchair, many of his outdoors pictures were taken from the front seat of his Jeep, which he would drive through the most rugged terrain to take pictures.

A favorite photograph was of a deer in the woods, titled "Bambi."

"Most of his work was done out of his Jeep," his sister said. "Sometimes his battery would die while he was out there, and he'd be stuck for hours. We'd have to call the fire department to go get him."

A Baltimore native, Mr. Weaver joined the Army when he was 17 and served in the Dominican Republic and in the First Air Calvary Division in Vietnam. He was paralyzed when struck by gunfire in Vietnam in 1966, less than a year after he had enlisted. His military awards included the Parachutist Badge Armed Forces, Expeditionary Medal Vietnam and the Purple Heart.

After his discharge, he settled in Fallston and took up photography. He developed an almost instant love for taking pictures, his sister said.

"Photography is all that I live for," Mr. Weaver once told a friend. "I get up in the morning with something to look forward to."

He took lessons, but most of his skills were self-taught.

"Joe had a keen eye for composition," said James A. Warner, an artist who often assessed Mr. Weaver's work. "While most photographers scurried around grabbing pictures out of the air, Joe rooted himself and waited. He found beauty in things that most of us overlook."

A graveside service will be held 11: 30 a.m. today at Garrison Forest Veterans Cemetery, 11501 Garrison Forest Road, Owings Mills.

In addition to his sister, Mr. Weaver is survived by his wife, the former Brenda Kaminski, whom he married in the mid-1980s.

Pub Date: 12/02/98

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