‘A legacy of visual truth’: Retired Tribune-Herald photog William Ing dies at 75

  • JOHN BURNETT/Tribune-Herald In this 2011 photo, longtime Tribune-Herald photographer William Ing sits at his desk in the newsroom.
  • Photo by TIM WRIGHT In this undated photo, longtime Tribune-Herald photographer William Ing climbs a ladder to get his shot.

William “Will” Ing, the retired Hawaii Tribune-Herald photographer who took the newspaper’s images from the darkroom to the digital age, died Monday of lung cancer at his home in Hot Springs, S.D. He was 75.

Ing, who retired in 2011, chronicled the Big Island in pictures for two decades — everything from politics to crime scenes, sports from keiki to kupuna, culture and the arts — and the devastating forces of nature, including Kilauea volcano.

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“He had a tremendously strong will. He was well-named,” said Ing’s partner of 23 years, Eloise “Lisa” Cortez Kaneshiro, on Tuesday. “He was a consummate perfectionist. He cared about his work. He wanted his work to shine. … He could tell stories so well. You knew by looking at his photographs what was going on — sometimes even what was going on outside of the picture frame.

“What was attractive to me was that he was honest, and his integrity was unquestionable.”

A self-described “health nut,” Ing didn’t smoke, seldom drank and only occasionally indulged in semi-sweet dark chocolate.

David Bock, editor and publisher of the Tribune-Herald, recalled Ing as a “wonderful photographer who helped move the newspaper to the digital era.”

“To some, Will had a gruff demeanor,” Bock said. “But he was a gentle and caring man who truly was devoted to his craft and to the people of this island.”

Bock said many of Ing’s photos remain iconic.

“He was the eyes of the Tribune-Herald for decades,” Bock said. “His role documenting the people and events on the Big Island are now part of the treasured historical record of this community. That is Will’s gift to all of us.”

Bill O’Rear, a retired Tribune-Herald sports editor, described Ing in a Facebook post as “a true professional, the best photographer that I saw at the Trib in the 30-plus years that I worked there.”

“But even more important was William’s warm friendships that he developed with so many other people during his lifetime, before and after his time on the Big Island,” O’Rear said. “… He made a difference in many of the things he did.

“He will be missed but fondly remembered as a good guy with a soft heart.”

Born in Honolulu, Ing attended Hawaiian Mission Academy, where his parents taught. A Spanish major at University of Southern California and University of Hawaii at Manoa, he was fluent in that language and French and competent in Portuguese, learned in the Peace Corps, and Indonesian, learned from time spent there.

Cortez Kaneshiro said Ing’s love of photography was nurtured by two maternal uncles. She added that as a youth, he “hoarded ‘Life’ magazines” and studied the photographs. Ing plied his art at Sun Press-Midweek on Oahu and The Garden Island on Kauai before moving to Hilo almost three decades ago to work at the Tribune-Herald upon the retirement of photographer Larry Kadooka.

Ing and Cortez Kaneshiro loved vacationing in Mexico, and he’d return with stunning photos. In the early 2000s, a nationwide teachers’ strike occurred. Bloodshed included an American photographer shot to death. Ing’s photos of a large protest march were published worldwide.

“We were cut off from our hotel by the marchers. And so, of course, the first thing Will does is jump on top of the vehicle we were in so he could get a better shot of the marchers,” Cortez Kaneshiro said. “People started beating on the car. He was just taking pictures and … one of the guys we were with started shouting, ‘We’re all gonna die! We’re all gonna die, and Will’s gonna be the first one!’

“That was him. He’d do anything to get a picture. … I think that he left a legacy of visual truth. It wasn’t just nice photos. He captured emotions and feelings with his shots.”

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In addition to Cortez Kaneshiro, Ing is survived by a brother, Melvin (Sandra) Ing of Oahu, and a niece, Jennifer. A celebration of life at a later date is planned in South Dakota.

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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