Tom Tondee, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin photojournalist and friend to the University of La Verne and its Communications Department, died last Thursday, a month after being diagnosed with stomach cancer. Tondee, 42, had a tremendous influence and impact on the University of La Verne Communications Department.
“He was really nice,” said Colby. “This guy was truly loveable. You wanted to work for him and do well for him.”
He served as a member of the advisory board when the department was first set up by Dr. Esther Davis.
“The photography department has been guided partly by professionals in the craft,” said Gary Colby, associate professor of photography. “Early on, he was a significant adviser to us.”
Tondee also worked with Colby in the weekend college program. He taught elementary photography lab in the spring, summer and fall of 1985 as well as in the spring, 1986.
“I realized recently that every single member of the photojournalism alumni who is working on a daily newspaper either interned, or at sometime during their career, was a photography staff member (at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin) serving under Tom,” said Colby.
According to Dr. George Keeler, associate professor of journalism, Tondee gave University of La Verne students first priority for internships.
Tondee was an asset to the department, not just for his abilities as a teacher or adviser, but for his loyal friendship.
Dr. Keeler said, “From the start, he believed in La Verne. He was an adjunct faculty member in the way he nurtured our department. I can’t believe he’s gone.”
Tondee began his photojournalism career in 1975 shooting high school sports for the Progress Bulletin in Pomona. He then worked as a full-time photographer for The Daily Report in Ontario in 1979. By 1990, when the papers merged as the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, he was the photo/graphics editor. Tondee helped create the current design of the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.
One of his most respected credits is “Sex for Sale,” a photo essay on prostitution.
Tondee was an achiever. The Campus Times respects all that he did. He will be missed.
“He took our department under his wings and championed our students,” said Dr. Keeler.