Chuck Cass, 31

Chuck Cass, 31, a photojournalist for Sun Publications and The Napperville Sun in suburban Chicago and an NPPA member since 1997, died Friday after a three-year battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Chuck Cass“It’s so tragic. He was a talented and hardworking photographer, and a really wonderful person, too,” said Sid Hastings, assistant director of photography for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “Those of us who were lucky enough to know him realize what a special person he was. He had this wonderful, quiet sense of humor, and a real ability to put his subjects at ease. We say it a lot, but he really was able to develop an intimacy and an empathy with those he photographed.”

“Chuck really was the kind of employee you want someone to be, willing to work hard and follow through on what was asked of him. But he was also willing to tell you when he thought something was out of whack and needed to be addressed. And from what I could see as his manager he always was a great coworker to other folks on the staff,” Hastings told News Photographer today.

Cass learned he had cancer in early 2003 and he continued to work while getting treatment, the newspaper reports, saying that when he eventually became too weak to work he still stayed in contact with friends and coworkers and attended gatherings and parties when he could.

“And he never gave up – even while he was sick he was out there working his butt off to make great pictures. He got sick after I left The Sunfor St. Louis, but I remember being amazed at the good stuff he was doing while he was sick. That first year he probably missed six or seven months of work and still managed to be in the top ten for the Illinois clip contest.

“It’s such a cliche thing to say, but he really will be missed,” Hastings said.

Mike Davis was the visual director for Sun Publications from 1999 to 2001. Now he's the features picture editor for The Oregonian. "Occasionally we get to work with people who are just plain nice to be around and who can make photographs that are reflections of their own character," Davis toldNews Photographer. "Chuck Cass was that person - never complain, always make more of the situation than you thought was possible, come out smiling and asking questions. I'll miss him."

“He was the most patient photographer I know. He was a very patient person and an attentive listener,” friend and coworker Jonathan Miano, also a photojournalist at The Sun, told News Photographer magazine today. “Those character traits allowed chuck to capture some really wonderful moments with his camera.”

“Chuck had a joy and a peace through this midst of his physical suffering. He would attribute this unexplainable joy and contentment to his relationship to Jesus Christ,” Miano said. “Chuck knew God had a purpose for his life and this earth was only his temporary home.”

Jim Svehla, photography editor for The Sun, said Cass’s memorial service will be Friday, November 18, at 7 p.m. at the Calvary Church, 9 S200 State Route 59, Naperville, IL. The church telephone number is +1.630.851.7000.