By Darla McCammon
You may not know him, but you certainly have seen him.
He’s the guy who is all over the community. Big events and small, he covers them all. He can be seen with his trusty camera, tripod and bag, and sometimes in the past he even took his cat on his adventures. He wears faded jeans cinched around his minuscule waist. A crisp shirt completes the outfit unless he throws on a well-worn vest or jacket. He sports a greying beard and mustache along with a beloved hat. If it is a little worse for wear, his western hat will always be perched on his head in a recognizable trademark. The hat will be straw in the heat of summer, then warm felt in the winter months. He drive a pickup truck and has no intentions of grandeur.
His name is Al Disbro and he has become a fixture, recognizable to all in our community for his love of recording the moments and experiences that occur regularly in our lives. His generosity is legend and his good humor sustains him as he never meets a stranger. He has helped the Animal Welfare League with marvelous fundraising calendar projects along with photos to help clients in choosing a pet. His professional quality work is in constant demand, including his dedication to providing photography for the local fire departments.
He loves the people in service to our community such as policemen, firefighters, sheriffs and more. He even carries a radio so he can get to an inferno in almost the same amount of time as the fire department. He and I co-wrote a book about Winona Lake that features much of his photography as well as his historical cache of old photos. I caught up with him not long ago as he was dedicating several days to take official photos for the entire Winona Lake Police Department.
“Hey, Al,” I smiled. “How is it going?”
“Darla!” He was happy to see me. “Come with me!”
I followed him into the room he was setting up for the photo shots of each officer.
“Sit over there,” he said. “I need to check the lighting.”
I sat. Next thing you know, I am totally surprised when I get a very nice portrait delivered by Al to my office in about a week. That’s just the kind of guy he is.
Disbro was born and raised in southern Indiana, where he met and married his sweetheart Jo. Disbro was introduced to photography when he was about 10 years old and it has stuck with him through his colorful career. He and JO moved to Fort Wayne when he was offered a job at Kelly Chevrolet. He was one of the youngest management people in the car dealership arena and spent time in sales, parts, service and more.
They moved to Colorado for another exciting opportunity, then moved back to Indiana as another chapter opened. Disbro ended his career at the Lake City Bank financial offices, where he worked up until retirement. Today he is the consummate professional taking photos for practically every event ever covered in the community.
His photography is excellent and you can have a look at it by visiting the Wagon Wheel Theater salon and lobby exhibit called “Our Town” that will highlight his work. You must visit the exhibit on “Our Town” because you just might find yourself in one of his photos. Disbro’s work will be on view through April 29. The gallery and salon at Wagon Wheel is open every day from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but is only open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays. Admission, except on show nights, is free for visitors to the gallery.
Upcoming and Current Events
If you would like to exhibit at Warsaw City Hall Art Gallery or submit an event, please contact Darla at [email protected] or at (574) 527-4044.
- Photography by Dean Jansen will be on display at the Warsaw City Hall Gallery through May 31.
- The Edgewood student art show will be on display from March 6 to 25 at Lakeland Art Gallery, 302 E. Winona Ave., Warsaw.
- The Mount Memorial Gallery exhibit “Drawn and Quartered” by Chris Anderson at Grace College will open at 6:30 p.m. March 13 and run through April 13. Anderson will also give a free lecture at 7:30 p.m. March 14 at Westminster Hall, 105 9th St., Winona Lake.