Seattle Post-Intelligencer photojournalist and NPPA member Phil Webber, 67, died Saturday March 18 in Seattle from complications related to emphysema. Webber was widely known in the photojournalism community around the Northwest not only for his long history of great photographs but also for his tied-died outfits and funny shoes. “He was truly a unique character, and he will definitely be missed,” Dean Rutz of the Seattle Times told News Photographer.
“Phil had been suffering from a couple of different illnesses but even so, he was on the job Friday, oxygen bottle and all,” Rutz said. “He was trying to make it to his 50th anniversary at the newspaper, which would have been in July, an astounding accomplishment in itself. An effort was being mounted to publish a book on Webber's 50 years at the newspaper. He met with publishers as late as the day before he died talking about such a project. And the Post-Intelligencer had done an oral history, complete with video tape, and planned a special section for Webber's 50th anniversary.”
An online gallery of Webber's photography is here.
In a story in today’s Seattle Times by Brian Alexander, the newspaper reports that Webber started taking news pictures while he was still a teenager in high school and would sell the shots to the newspaper, doing it long enough that the Post-Intelligencer eventually hired him. Born and raised in Seattle, he graduated from Lincoln High School and has worked for the newspaper ever since, joining NPPA in 1973.
Webber is survived by his son, Kevin Coryell; a twin brother, Bill Webber; and his girlfriend, Barbara Downs. The family requests that remembrances be made to the Progressive Animal Welfare Society or Planned Parenthood.