Photographer represented heart and soul of our magazine
Photographer Ed Drondoski was a founding member of the Indian River Magazine staff. Here he prepares for a cover shot in 2016 of Martin Health System's CEO. GREGORY ENNS PHOTO
It is with tremendous sadness that we share with you our readers, advertisers and — especially the people whose photos by him have appeared on our pages — the news of the death of our friend Ed Drondoski, our chief photographer and one of our key players in the creation of this magazine 11 years ago.
Ed, 57, died suddenly Tuesday at his home west of Fort Pierce of an apparent heart attack after doing yard work. He leaves behind his wonderful wife, Barbara, and three grown children, Ed, John and Lara, all of whom made him feel extremely blessed.
A memorial service is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9, with visitation starting at 3 p.m. at Yates Funeral Home in Fort Pierce.
Ed represented the heart and soul of Indian River Magazine and because of the many contacts he made doing photo shoots he was our greatest ambassador. His courtesy, kindness and professionalism were his trademarks.
Beyond his work as a photographer for the magazine, the death of Ed represents a tremendous personal loss for Associate Publisher Allen Osteen and me. Growing up, Ed was one of our closest friends at John Carroll High School in Fort Pierce and somebody we could always depend on.
Because of his courtesy, all of our mothers adored him. We gave him the nickname Eddie Haskell, the disingenuous character on the early ‘60s television show “Leave It To Beaver.’’ The only difference between Eddie Haskell and Ed was that Ed’s courtesy was genuine and heartfelt.
Ed was an only child, devoted to his mother, Helen, and overseeing her care until her death in 2013. He also kept alive the memory of his father, John, a citrus grower and World War II veteran who died in 1991, through his love of military affairs and dedication to the citrus groves. The two also shared a love of hunting and fishing, which Ed passed on to his kids.
Sunny Gates, a longtime friend of Ed’s and co-worker at the magazine, remembers Ed’s continuing kindness for years after the death in 1979 of her brother, Robert, a friend of Ed’s. ‘’Each Mother's Day Ed would call my mother,’’ said Sunny. “When she passed away in 2002, he continued to call me and wish me a Happy Mother's Day.’’
Ed relished the role of “Daddy Duck,’’ as he called it, shuttling his three kids close in age to St. Edward’s School in Vero, to karate practice or to any number of other activities in which they were involved.
When Allen and I decided to launch the magazine 11 years ago, Ed was one of the first people we brought in to help us out. Ed had previously held jobs as a pilot, EMT and school teacher, and because of his outstanding personality we thought he’d be great in sales. So he first started as an advertising sales rep handling the Vero Beach territory and established many important accounts for us.
As a sales rep, he believed as much in his clients and their products as he did in the magazine so it became a costly proposition for him. He bought a Porsche convertible from his client the Porsche dealer, and bought a Rolex watch from a client who was a jeweler.
Fortunately, he had also developed an interest in photography and shortly after the end of our first year he moved over to become our chief photographer. The role of magazine and society photographer was especially well suited to him because of his winning personality. He put photo subjects at ease and more often than not people became friends with him after his shoots. He became one of the most popular society photographers on the Treasure Coast even among those with whom he competed.
Ed Drondoski and wife, Barbara, both in green, at a society event in Windsor with other society writers and photographers. CHRISTINA TASCON PHOTO
“Him being there meant the occasion was worth attention and he instantly elevated the event with his class, perfect attire and bright enthusiasm,’’ said Christina Tascon, an Indian River Magazine writer who also covers society events for other publications. “He always had a smile on his face when he approached anyone.’’
I can’t tell you the number of people who told me how much they liked Ed or associated our magazine with Ed and today the tributes and condolences are pouring in. “Everybody loved him,’’ Tascon said.
Ed never hesitated to tell us how happy he was, or that we had reached a landmark — our first year, our fifth year, our 10th year, our 11th year. Early on in the magazine, when things would get tough or we’d feel that the competition was gaining on us he would calm me. A former helicopter and plane pilot, he’d reassure me with these words: “Greg, we fly our own mission.’’ It’s become my mantra for running the magazine ever since.
He often called me close to holidays. He’d always begin the conversation, “Hey old boy, can you believe’’ and then talk about some great milestone we reached at the magazine. He’d always ask about my wife, Gretchen, and the kids and share news about his kids and would end the conversation by saying how blessed we were and that we were the luckiest guys in the world.
— Gregory Enns, Publisher
Following are some of the tributes to Ed from his co-workers at Indian River Magazine, along with a representative samples of his work.
TRIBUTES FROM HIS CO-WORKERS
“Ed was a guy you could always rely on. He loved what he did and he loved to tell stories about it. He would go out of his way to get whatever I needed. He put the best possible face on everything, He was kind. He was compassionate. He cared. He said things happen for a reason and we shouldn’t worry too much about it. He was the guy who always had your back. I sure will miss him. But I feel fortunate to have known him and lucky that I can still hear the sound of his voice in my head. Which makes him seem very alive indeed.’’
— Susan Burgess, Indian River Magazine writer
“Ed was such a great person with an amazing heart. Just spoke with him yesterday morning & he was so grateful for the time he was able to spend with his family over the holiday. Always so grateful and positive. He could always spin a conversation around to make you laugh. I will cherish the moments we shared.’’
— Anthony Inswasty, Indian River Magazine photographer
“In the 5 1/2 years that I knew Ed, he was always a smiling face, full of personality and sincere kindness. Whenever he took our photos of the sales personnel for the magazine he would say you are so beautiful and made you relax for the camera. A beautiful man inside and out who will be missed greatly.’’
— Marsha Lange, Indian River Magazine sales representative
“Ed was always so reassuring and happy to oblige. He took some photos for one of my articles and went out of his way to meet a very busy man that was running us around where he would be and at a different time. Ed was so flexible, and he was so nice that he charmed this guy so much that he actually became friendly. What I had seen as a pain, Ed turned into an adventure. I remember his telling me so many times how it was no problem, we do what we can. Almost every event I covered or attended for the last 6 years, he was there, and if he wasn't there was a little less fun in it. He elevated the event with his class and smile...and if there was a hot convertible outside, I knew he would be taking photos inside...lol. I am really going to miss him.’’
— Christina Tascon, Indian River Magazine writer
“This is a terrible loss for the Treasure Coast and my prayers are with his family and friends. He was a professional who made thousands of people friends of Indian River Magazine for life. Happy landings in heaven my friend.’’
— Greg Gardner, Indian River Magazine writer
"Ed was a great friend and colleague. He was so thoughtful and always asked about my daughter, husband and family. I will miss him tremendously. He took the best portraits of people. Always making them feel at ease and look their best. He was considerate and mindful. He saw the best in people through his lens and his portraits reflect that quality and love of his work."
— Michelle Burney, Indian River Magazine design editor
Cover photography by Ed Drondoski
Party photography by Ed Drondoski
Editorial photography by Ed Drondoski