Sanborn more than just a photographer

Published 1:16 am Saturday, February 27, 2021

It was 1982. A young, slender and clean shaven man came through the front doors of The Ironton Tribune.
He spoke to one of the women at the front desk and she pointed him in my direction. He then walked toward me and coming upon my desk introduced himself. He nervously asked about taking pictures for the paper, specifically sports photos.
I said sure and typed out a media pass for him. I gave him his first assignment, told him it paid $5 and 8 cents a mile. He said that was fine, thanked me and headed out the door.
And thus, began a relationship for the next 40 years that went from strictly business to friendship.
There have been many times during the past four decades that I have wondered what in the hell would I have done without this man. This skinny junior varsity basketball player who graduated from Ironton High School in 1977, entered the military, landed a job with Hecla Water and evolved into the premier sports photographer in not only the Tri-State area but Southeastern Ohio as well.
It’s doubtful that he still has that first media pass and he has his own key so he never comes through the front door. He has become so well-known and respected throughout the entire area that everyone knows him by name. The only reason he needed me is to make sure he was on the pass list at venues like the Ohio University Convocation Center.
And I’m not sure he really needed that.
I once asked him if he was taking a night off because none of our local teams were playing night and he said “No. I’m still going. If there’s a ball game, I’ll be there.”
And the most telling thing about him was not only his love of taking photographs, but seeing these young kids do well regardless of the school or sport. He is just a fan and wanted them to succeed.
Any athlete in the past 40 years in Lawrence County has probably come into contact with him. He knows the kids, he knows the parents and he knows the families. Heck, he knows a lot of the fans even if they don’t have kids involved.
And he has a great sense of humor that many people don’t know exists. I remember riding in his car going to a game and his cell phone has a special ringer for Becky and it went off with a “Lost in Space” voice saying “Danger! Danger! It’s the wife!”
He worked for Hecla Water and there were occasions when he couldn’t shoot a game because he was called out on a work assignment. I told him that he
But a little more than a week ago, tragedy struck and put him in the hospital. That wicked and evil villain cancer swarmed his body and he has been stripped of all the things he loves. He is lying in a hospital bed fighting a disease that doesn’t fight fair.
Still, through it all, I can always know that he was not just a good photographer, a good husband and a good man but, more importantly, a good friend.
Most everyone knows whom I’m talking about in this story and I’ve withheld his name intentionally. It’s Kent Sanborn and I only used his name once because he’s one of a kind.
God bless you and Becky.
Jim Walker is sports editor emeritus for The Ironton Tribune.

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