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Published: 8/19/2009

Self-taught photographer used hobby as a side line

Higinio Covarrubias, a punch press operator for more than four decades who operated a busy photography business on the side, died Monday in Hospice of Northwest Ohio, Perrysburg Township. He was 85.

Mr. Covarrubias suffered from a multitude of serious health problems, and his specific cause of death was unknown, his daughter Teresa Abrishami said.

Mr. Covarrubias worked a punch press for 43 years at Acklin Stamping Co., where he was a member of Local 12, until he retired in 1986.

His avocation, however, was photography, and he practiced it energetically on weekends, when he was busy taking pictures of weddings, baptisms, first communions, and quinceaneras, the Hispanic coming-out party for 15-year-old girls. He was a favorite throughout the Mexican-American community of northwest Ohio, his daughter explained.

He was self-taught. He started the business because he loved photography. When he was really busy, he said he had a wedding every Saturday from April through October. He worked the second shift at Acklin Stamping on Friday, then he got up and was at the church Saturday morning, Ms. Abrishami said.

When shooting in black and white, he did his own processing. He was introduced to digital photography by his son Miguel, a professional photographer, who died in 2005. His son Phillip also preceded him in death.

In the 1950s and 60s, Mr. Covarrubias was active in the American GI Forum, the largest federally chartered Hispanic veterans association. He had not served in the military himself, but wanted to do what he could to advance veterans educationally and economically.

Mr. Covarrubias and his wife, Anita, married in 1947. They had nine children and lived in East Toledo. For more than 60 years, they belonged to Good Shepherd Catholic Church, where Mr. Covarrubias was active in the Fellowship Ministry.

He enjoyed listening to Hispanic music and traveling, Ms. Abrishami said. He was born in Laredo, Texas, and would return to his native state over the years. He arrived in northwest Ohio in the late 1930s and lived and worked in Fremont initially, his daughter said.

He took great pride in his yard, which was always neatly mowed and planted with flowers, Guma Mata, a son-in-law, said. He had a great garden, and people would stop and admire his roses, Mr. Mata said.

Surviving are his wife, Anita; daughters, Teresa Abrishami, Mary Lou Mata, and Delores Mata; sons, John, Higinio, Patrick, and Arturo, 42 grandchildren, and 34 great-grandchildren.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Friday in Good Shepherd Catholic Church, 550 Clark St.

The body will be at the Eggleston Meinert Pavley Funeral Home, 440 South Coy Rd., Oregon, after 2 p.m. Thursday and at the church an hour before the funeral.



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