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Published: Friday, 8/22/2008

Thomas Dale Vines 1942-2008

Thomas Dale Vines, 66, a celebrated photographer who documented the culture and history of Toledo's African-American community, died Monday in St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center.

His wife, Katherine, said he had been ill since March with an undiagnosed ailment. The official cause of death was pulmonary edema, she said.

Mr. Vines was the fourth generation in his family to pursue photography, a tradition that began with his great-grandfather Cornelius Edwoods, who also published Toledo's first black newspaper, The Observer.

Mr. Vines began taking pictures as a youth. He grew more serious about the hobby in the early 1970s and while attending the University of Toledo.

His first photographic exhibit, "Images of Dorr Street: 1973 to 1976," which appeared at the Mott branch of the Toledo-Lucas County Public Library in 1982, chronicled the spirit of the onetime business and social hub of Toledo's black community.

"Someone asked me where were the buildings in my pictures," he recalled for The Blade in a later interview. "I told them the people made Dorr Street, not the buildings. That idea came from within myself. Each photograph was part of the story."

Later exhibits often dealt with Toledo's African-American businesses, churches, families, and athletes of years' past, and appeared at the Toledo Museum of Art, the Collingwood Arts Center, and the Kent branch library as well as area art galleries.

"Tom was always a very curious person, and I think his work was very much appreciated," his sister, Alice Vines, said.

For the year 2000, he collaborated with John Scott, a former Bowling Green State University professor, for a Toledo Art Museum exhibit on the 100 most influential African-Americans in Toledo history.

In addition, Mr. Vines regularly visited Mr. Scott's ethnic studies class at BGSU to give guest lectures on the powerful impact of visual images.

"He was very thoughtful, resourceful, and very well-liked by a lot of people," Mr. Scott said.

Mr. Vines also enjoyed writing poetry.

Mr. Vines was the second of 10 children. His younger brother, Melvin, who died in 1997, was one of the city's most prominent visual artists.

The brothers in the early 1970s were founding members of the Confederation of Black Artists, which called attention to local artists.

Mr. Vines was a 1961 graduate of Libbey High School, and worked at Jeep and Toledo Edison before serving in the Army for about two years during the Vietnam War.

Mrs. Vines said her husband's interest in people then led him to social service work.

He graduated from UT in 1976, then Big Brothers Big Sisters of Northwestern Ohio and later the Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority.

Since the 1990s, he worked at Toledo Head Start, most recently as a family service worker.

Surviving are his wife, Katherine; sons, Thomas, Jr., Ellwood, and Garland; mother, Elizabeth Vines; sisters, Alice Vines and Rebecca Boswell, and brothers, David, Clifford, Gregory, Cornelius, Stephen, and Anthony.

Visitation will be from 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday in the Dale-Riggs Funeral Home Chapel. Services will be at 10 a.m. Monday in Grace Presbyterian Church.

The family suggests tributes to the Frederick Douglass Community Center.



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