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Ellis J. Malashuk, 80, photographer for Sun for almost 40 years

Ellis J. Malashuk, a staff photographer for The Sun whose work was long a mainstay of the old Sun Magazine, died of heart failure Saturday at Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The Towson resident was 80.

Mr. Malashuk was born in Baltimore, the son of immigrant parents from Kiev, and raised on Rose Street. After graduating from City College in 1941, he attended the University of Michigan for a year.

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He began working as a messenger in the city room of The Sun in the late 1930s, in the old Sun Square building at Baltimore and Charles streets.

His interest in photography, which began as a teen-ager, was further stimulated by a brother, Alexander J. "Axel" Malashuk, who was a Sunpapers staff photographer.

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Mr. Malashuk enlisted in the Army in 1943 and served in the European theater as a cryptographer until the end of World War II.

He returned to the Sunpapers in 1947 as a general news photographer. He was promoted in 1967 to the Sun Magazine staff as a features photographer. Mr. Malashuk used a Hasselblad camera in his work.

"His darkroom was next to A. Aubrey Bodine's, who taught him how to superimpose images, clouds and other tricks," said Mr. Malashuk's wife of 29 years, the former Betty M. Lippy.

"He was a very congenial man who was able to capture the essence of the moment, no matter what the project was," said Lewis R. Bush, retired photo department director. "He had a strong feature-type approach to his work and that's why he was on the magazine. He could do most anything."

"He may have replaced Bodine, but he was a great photographer in his own right. He was highly regarded by his peers," said Lloyd Pearson, a retired Sun photographer who was a friend and colleague for more than 40 years.

"He was always very conscious of composition and didn't shoot from the hip. His pictures always had a human-interest content to them and told a story. They didn't even really need a caption," Mr. Pearson said.

Jed Kirschbaum, a Sun photographer since 1978, recalled the time he was trying to figure the lighting in Baltimore's Penn Station when Mr. Malashuk came to his aid.

"Ellis walked me right through it in no time at all," Mr. Kirschbaum said. "He was smooth and knew all the techniques, and most of all, he never lost his sense of wonder."

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A routine assignment on a hot summer day in 1981 led to a memorable series of images of how city children were coping with the searing heat. The photos showed children on Stricker Street dancing under a hose, while in another a little girl perched on the edge of a bucket, dangling her feet in the cool water. Three other boys sought another way of cooling off as they rode a grocery cart at high speed down a slight hill.

Mr. Malashuk, who had spent the summers of his youth in the city, wrote in an accompanying article, "Nothing's changed. What these kids are doing today, we did in our day."

Mr. Malashuk was also strong in portraiture, as evidenced by his 1970 picture of Laymon Yokely, a notable Negro leagues baseball pitcher who had been favorably compared to Satchel Paige and Bob Feller. It was taken outside Mr. Yokely's Pennsylvania Avenue shoeshine parlor, where he worked after his playing days ended.

In 1981, his photograph of composer Philip Glass was selected in a national contest of Sunday magazines as one of the 10 best covers of the year. Rudy Hoglund, who was art director of Time magazine, wrote of it, "Rembrandt would have preferred this lighting. ... It's a successful portrait."

After his 1985 retirement, Mr. Malashuk continued to enjoy photography and had learned last year how to use a digital camera. He also studied stained-glassmaking, and in his basement workshop fabricated colorful Tiffany-style lamps and windows that he gave to family and friends.

An avid golfer, he also made and sold custom golf clubs.

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Mr. Malashuk's first marriage was to Mary R. Ramsel in 1946. She died in 1972.

He was a member of Trinity Episcopal Church, 120 Allegheny Ave., Towson, where a memorial service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by a son, Ellis J. "Skip" Malashuk Jr. of Baltimore; three daughters, Pamela Strausbaugh of Camden, Del., Deborah Richardson of Street and Kathy Frith of Essex; a stepson, Michael E. Bruggeman of Silver Spring; a stepdaughter, Gay L. Gross of Delta, Pa.; a brother, William Malashuk of Towson; a sister, Anna Villa of Baltimore; 12 grandchildren; and five great-children.


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