Julia Pelish-Brijbassi, a former Newsday photography technician who co-founded a website highlighting Canada tourist attractions, has died in her adopted hometown of Vancouver. She was 59.
The Poughkeepsie native died Thursday from a brain tumor at Vancouver General Hospital, said her husband, former Newsday sports copy editor Adrian Brijbassi.
At the time of her death, Pelish-Brijbassi and her husband were working on a book featuring recipes by top Canadian chefs with ingredients believed to prevent cancer. The book is scheduled for release later this year by Fresh Air Publishing, Adrian Brijbassi said.
“It was Julia’s idea to help cancer charities,” he said.
Pelish-Brijbassi worked at newspapers such as Newsday, the Poughkeepsie Journal and the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle before pursuing a career as a freelance photographer, her husband said. She briefly ran her own business taking portraits and shooting weddings.
A friend, former Newsday business writer Richard Dalton of Vancouver, said Pelish-Brijbassi was “an amazing photographer” who knew “how to capture a moment.” She enjoyed taking pictures of family and friends, he said.
“She just had a really contagious laugh,” Dalton said. “When Julia laughed, everybody just had to laugh.”
Pelish-Brijbassi worked at Newsday from 1996 to 2006. For most of that time she was a technician in the editorial photo department, and she also worked as a designer for two years in the marketing department, her husband said.
The couple moved to Vancouver, then to Toronto, where she was a freelance travel photographer for the Toronto Star from 2008 to 2012.
She and her husband relocated to Vancouver in 2012 and founded vacay.ca, a travel website. Adrian Brijbassi is the site’s managing editor and his wife was its visual editor and managing partner.
“I think we filled a niche in the media world which hadn’t been filled,” Adrian Brijbassi said. “There wasn’t anyone doing that.”
The couple had met at the Poughkeepsie Journal, where he was a sports copy editor and she was a photo technician.
“She was very kind, very compassionate, great sense of humor,” Brijbassi said, recalling his first impressions of her. “She was a lovely person.”
He said the “shared experience” of travel and frequent relocations helped keep the couple close through a 20-year marriage.
“I think we were both adventurous and kind of game for it. Our skills kind of complemented each other. Julia had that endless curiosity, which really helped us,” Adrian Brijbassi said.
In addition to her husband, she is survived by her sisters, Christine Craig of Poughkeepsie and Elizabeth Campanella of Cold Spring; two brothers, Matthew Pelish of Albany and Stafford Pelish Jr. of Omaha, Nebraska, and five nieces and nephews.
Services are planned in Vancouver and the Hudson Valley, Adrian Brijbassi said.