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Willie Mae Brown
Jon Fox
Robert Mendelsohn


In Memoriam
Robert Mendelsohn

The Golden Heart Group will initiate the
Robert Mendelsohn Legacy Award
to be given to a local photographer or photography student
who best exemplifies Mr. Mendelsohn's ideals and high standards.

by Ayana Jones,
Philadelphia Tribune Staff Writer

On Wednesday, hundreds of community members, politicians, journalists and photographers packed Goldsteins’ Rosenberg’s Raphel-Sacks Funeral Home in West Oak Lane to celebrate his life and legacy.

Mendelsohn, 61, died of heart disease. He was referred to as the “Gordon Parks” of Philadelphia and has been widely celebrated for covering Black social events throughout the city. From backyard cookouts to upper-echelon soirées, he covered these events for various publications including The Philadelphia Tribune, The New Observer, The Philadelphia Sunday Sun and Scoop USA.

“He was a force of love and service to the community,” Chaplain Jana Mallis said as she delivered his eulogy.

“He loved the people he served by taking their pictures and capturing many great moments. He was a humble, yet very accomplished photographer. He carved out a niche for himself, which will be very hard to replace. He served all, regardless of any payment.”

“He is a role model for all aspiring photographers and journalists,” Mallis continued.

“He never considered payment as his only motivation for any job. He did not have much, but he gave everything that he had. ”

Mendelsohn started photographing society events after a chance encounter at a 1995 National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) event in Philadelphia featuring a keynote address by the late renowned Defense Attorney Johnnie Cochran.

The crowd who gathered at Goldstein’s funeral home laughed together as Andrea Lawful-Sanders recounted how Mendelsohn sneaked into the NABJ event because he wanted to take a picture of the celebrated attorney.

That encounter led to Mendelsohn being hired by the Sunday Sun. He was subsequently brought on as a freelancer by other African-American publications.

“He was the ‘people’s photographer’ as we called him,” said Catherine Hicks, co-publisher of the Sunday Sun.

“He is loved by so many. He has shown Philadelphia through his lens and his beautiful pictures.”