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By JANET CAPPIELLO
LOUISVILLE — Ed Reinke, an award-winning Associated Press photographer who traveled worldwide and was known for his striking pictures of Kentucky news and sporting events, died Tuesday following an injury, according to his family. He was 60.
Reinke was taken to St. Elizabeth Hospital in Edgewood on Oct. 2 after he fell and suffered a head injury while covering the IndyCar race at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.
“Ed Reinke was a first-rate professional with an extraordinary knack for being in the right place at the right time to get the picture,” said Santiago Lyon, director of photography for The Associated Press. “He was a mentor to countless photographers and will be deeply missed by all those whose careers he touched.”
During more than 25 years with AP, Reinke often was selected for assignments across the world: Super Bowls, World Series championships, Final Fours, Summer and Winter Olympics, Masters and PGA championships, the Indy 500, President Bill Clinton’s first inauguration and Hurricane Andrew. And, starting in 1988, every Kentucky Derby.
He was AP’s lead photographer for virtually every major news event in Kentucky’s modern history, including the Aug. 27, 2006, crash of Comair Flight 5191 that killed 49 at Lexington’s Blue Grass Airport and the 1988 Carrollton bus crash, which killed 24 children and three adults in the nation’s deadliest drunken-driving collision.
“There’s a big black hole at the center of the photojournalism universe with Ed Reinke gone, but it’s his influence that will shine the brightest,” said John Flavell, photo editor at The Daily Independent in Ashland, Ky., and a friend and colleague of Reinke’s for 25 years.
Reinke’s career spanned revolutionary changes in the way photos were produced and transmitted to AP members worldwide, from the days of black-and-white pictures produced in a darkroom to today’s digital color images sent by the Internet minutes after being taken.
“Ed was a wonderful representative for the AP and will be missed by staff and AP members across the state who knew they could depend on him to deliver. He built and nurtured one of the strongest AP photo reports in the country,” said Adam Yeomans, AP bureau chief for Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi.
Flavell said when Reinke started as AP’s photographer in Louisville, he set out to meet photographers at every AP-member newspaper in Kentucky to urge them to contribute more pictures that could be shared among all newspapers.
“Those he could trust to shoot decent pictures for freelance assignments became known as ‘Reinke’s kids,’ a close-knit group of local newspaper photographers bent on validating his trust,” Flavell said. “Actually, he built a network of trust among newspaper photographers and we help each other out within that network to this day. He was the hub of a very close-knit community.”
Edward J. Reinke was born in Indiana, graduated from Northwestern High School in Howard County, Ind., and attended Indiana University.
Reinke began his photojournalism career at the Cincinnati Enquirer, starting as an intern in 1972 and becoming a full-time staffer in 1973. In 1979, he went to work for AP in Cincinnati and three years later transferred to the Washington, D.C., bureau.
He rejoined the Enquirer in 1983 and was named director of photography in 1984.
He returned to The Associated Press in Louisville on Aug. 31, 1987, becoming AP’s first staff photographer in Kentucky in 25 years.
“More than any other person, Ed gets the credit for establishing a top-tier photo report for Kentucky,” Teresa Wasson, AP news editor for Tennessee and Kentucky said. “When AP needed a picture in the state, Ed either shot it or he was on the phone, working his network of newspaper photographers and freelancers to get the photo.”
In one week in September 1989, Reinke traveled to tiny Wheatcroft in western Kentucky to cover the nation’s deadliest coal mine disaster in five years, back to Louisville to cover what was then the worst workplace shooting in U.S. history at the Standard Gravure printing plant and then to McKee in eastern Kentucky, where a high school student held 11 hostages during a standoff with police. “No one worked harder - nor drove farther - than you did,” Ed Staats, then chief of bureau in Louisville, said in a letter of commendation to Reinke.
“An untold number of viewers had Ed to thank for the compelling, content-driven images they saw every day,” said Joe Imel, assistant managing editor of photos for the Daily News of Bowling Green and a friend and colleague for 21 years. “He made sure that the photojournalism community in Kentucky was a tight-knit group. He was the common thread. “
Reinke won numerous awards from the Associated Press Sports Editors for his coverage, including the 1992 Thomas V. DiLustro award for excellence in sports photography. He received Best of Show in 2000 in the Baseball Hall of Fame photo contest for his picture of Hank Aaron and Willie Mays saluting Ted Williams at the All Century Team celebration during the World Series.
AP named him Kentucky staffer of the year in 1996. In 1997, AP published a photo package and story by Reinke documenting the cycle of tobacco farming and its impact in Kentucky.
Reinke had covered the opening of the Kentucky Speedway in 2000. Eleven years later, as the track was about to host its first Sprint Cup Series event, Reinke recalled horrendous traffic tie-ups at the opening and correctly predicted the serious delays that plagued the 2011 race.
Reinke, who lived on a farm near Glencoe, often spoke fondly of late nights spent birthing calves or days off attending to chores aboard his tractor.
He was predeceased by his father, Ervin F. Reinke, and brother, Jerry L. Reinke. He is survived by his mother, Margaret L. Harmon Reinke; wife, Tori, and two sons, Wilson and Graham.