Tony Jerome, a Newsday photo editor who pursued photography as a career and as a personal passion, died Thursday after a long battle with liver disease. He was 58.
The photo bug bit Jerome early. He shot sports photos for his high school paper, and after graduating from Suffolk County Community College, he landed a job at the Smithtown News, his daughter, Jeannette Jerome-Liguori, 33, of Nesconset, said Thursday.
"He'd be driving and he'd pull out his camera because of the way the light hit a tree," Jerome-Liguori said. "He really just liked playing around with a camera."
But Jerome had another passion - fishing. He took his boat out on Sunday afternoons and went to Montauk, the place he called the fishing mecca. Fluke, flounder and striped bass were his specialties.
Jerome did freelance work for the New York Post, the New York Daily News, The New York Times, Time and Newsweek. He also ran a wedding and portrait photography business from his home and worked as a photo editor at the Record in Port Jefferson. Later, he worked as chief photo editor at The Record in Hackensack, N.J. - moving on to New York Newsday as a photo editor in 1994 and later to Newsday.
"Tony was a good friend to everyone who knew him," said Jeff Schamberry, Newsday's director of photography. "He had the experience and skills to work in any role and he worked so hard he seldom took breaks for meals."
Jerome won awards from the New York Press Association and the Press Photographers Association of Long Island, and in 1997, Newsday's Publisher's Award for his photos of a Brentwood boy fighting leukemia. He also shot the cover photo for a book about a Northport cult murder, his daughter said.
Liver disease took the lives of Jerome's mother and brother, and he began fighting it in 2002. He was waiting for a transplant, but was diagnosed in December with lymphoma unrelated to the liver disease. That diagnosis removed him from the list of potential transplant candidates.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the American Liver Foundation or participation in the foundation's fundraising Liver Life Walk on May 16. Information is available at go.liverfoundation.org/goto/ JeannetteJerome.
A wake is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at the Branch Funeral Home in Smithtown from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. A memorial service will be held Monday at 10 a.m. at the Branch Funeral Home.
Entombment will follow at the Pinelawn Memorial Park in Pinelawn.