Eileen Joyce Wolford
July 12, 1938 ‒ March 15, 2021
MANSFIELD: In what she called “wet belly” photography, Eileen Wolford did not show what was already visible. Rather, she gave a glimpse – really an experience – into something that otherwise would never have been. On her stomach, in complete natural light – never moving a leaf for a better shot – she photographed Ohio wildflowers in a splendor that enlarged and beautified. She helped preserve moments, architecture and personalities that would have been forgotten. She captured – in images – which words cannot describe. Eileen Wolford was an artist with a lens.
Eileen passed away Monday morning March 15, 2021 from OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital. She was 82.
Born July 12, 1938 on the family farm in northern Richland County to parents Willment W. and Laura L. (Doty) Wolford, she was graduated from Savannah High School in 1956.
After attending Oberlin College, she accepted a position as a secretary in the advertising department at Ohio Seamless Tube in Shelby. She was promoted at “The Tuby” to executive secretary to Reid Pittenger, VP of the Ohio Seamless Tube Division of Copperweld before taking a position in the Human Resources department as manager of Public Relations. In this post Eileen photographed new hires as well as retirees. It was this necessity of photography that sparked a lifelong love of the camera lens.
While at The Tuby, she served as editor of “Tuby Talk” – a monthly tabloid publication featuring news of plant modernization and improvements as well as news on employees, promotions, new hires, and retirees. In all, Eileen’s 38 year-career culminated in her retirement in 1990.
Eileen began photographing work-related subjects and personnel with a Speed Graphic 4X5 camera. She would have an assignment to take a picture of plant equipment with a two-exposure film pack, and quickly taught herself the basics on the job.
Soon a love of photography became a hobby with her own 35mm camera, taking close-ups of wildflowers, trees, farm buildings and landscapes.
Her skills improved through help from other local photographers to learn darkroom operations. Eileen’s fine art enlargements established her standing as a serious professional.
Eileen and her late husband Julian W. Barnard collaborated on a photographic record of Baltimore & Ohio System right-of-way structures and rolling stock, including other subjects of interest to historians and scale model builders. This work includes thousands of her photos. Eileen’s work in this endeavor has become renowned with train historians, and is now in the collection of the B&O Historical Society. Their collaborative publication in 1980 is in the library of Congress as well as numerous university libraries.
In the early 1960s Eileen joined the Mansfield Fine Arts Guild which would become the Mansfield Art Center (MAC). She served on the MAC board of directors, as board president in the 1990s, and then as a lifetime director. She was instrumental in establishing the MAC satellite operation: Art Works on Main Gallery – a storefront gallery just north of Fourth Street downtown Mansfield.
A strong supporter of all fine arts, Eileen enjoyed attending The Cleveland Orchestra concerts as a season ticket holder for many years. Music moved her soul. The beginning chords in Severance Hall were played especially for her. For Eileen, the arts were to be felt – to be experienced. And she regularly visited the Cleveland Art Museum as a Family Member.
Eileen and her husband Bill Marsh frequently traveled across the country on AMTRAK, including a loop across Canada on VIA Rail to Vancouver with a return on AMTRAK’s northern route beginning and ending in Cleveland. The couple’s Europe tour from Rome to Florence, to Venice, to Paris and Brussels was also via the rails.
Eileen is survived by her husband William “Bill” Marsh, whom she married December 5, 1992; daughter Laura Barnard and her husband Blake Womack of Pittsburgh, PA; grandson Jasper Womack; step children Lisa Marsh of Louisville, KY, Robert (Susanna) Marsh of Lexington, KY, and Julia Hebner of Henrico, VA; step grandchildren Megan Melrose, Kelsey Melrose, Jason Noel, Jennifer Noel; brother Charles (Laura) Wolford of Mansfield; brothers-in-law J. Paul Snyder of Bellville and E.C. Marsh of Daytona Beach, FL; and numerous nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by a step son Julian W. “Mook” Barnard, III; and her sister Shontell Snyder.
The Marion Avenue Snyder Funeral Home is serving Eileen’s family with compassionate cremation service. Though no public services will be held, the family hopes that Eileen’s memory will be held dear in your heart the next time you experience fine art or hear orchestral music. Art enhances life.
To perpetuate her memory, contributions are suggested to Mansfield Art Center or The Cleveland Orchestra. Made payable directly to either arts organization, contributions may be mailed to Snyder Funeral Home, 350 Marion Ave 44903.
Snyder Funeral Home is honored to serve Eileen’s family. Share a message of support with them online at: SnyderFuneralHomes.com
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