Longtime Rutland Herald Photographer A.J. Marro Retires
Albert J. Marro has been a fixture at press conferences and sporting events in Rutland for nearly half a century. At the end of this month the longtime Rutland Herald photographer is retiring.
Marro is hard to miss at a press event. He’s a big guy with a bushy gray beard, a black Nikon slung around his neck and a hearty laugh. Think Santa’s younger brother.
Chuck Clarino, a former sports writer at the Herald, was a high school classmate of Marro’s and says his friend’s personality and skill have helped him get the right photos for every story.
“We did a lot of events together," says Clarino. "And one of the great things about A.J. is he’s been a kind of guy you feel comfortable with.”
“He would always say, ‘Well, Chuck, I’ve got to go over and politic,’ so he’d work the crowd,” says Clarino.
“And everybody knew him because he had taken pictures of them and their children, their mother, their father, and he would always say, 'Blah blah blah, how ya doin?’ laughs Clarino. “And they would talk to him. And it didn’t matter if they were 10 years old or 80 years old.”
Clarino’s wife, Yvonne Daley, is also a former Rutland Herald reporter. While Marro may be best known for his sports photos, she says his artistic eye comes through no matter what he is shooting. She remembers close-up photos that Marro took of butterflies or flowers or moody images of the moon rising over Rutland that she says were stunning.
“He knew places to go at 6 o’clock in the morning to get that mist coming up,” says Daley, “or the smoke nestled in the valley. He’s an artist as well as a sports and news photographer.”
She says Marro leaving the paper marks the end of an era.
“Albert is a celebrity no matter where you would go on assignment. Whether you were in the Northeast Kingdom or Brattleboro and especially in Rutland County, it wasn’t about you the reporter, it was about A.J. showing up," says Daley, smiling.
"‘A.J. was here!’ People would get really excited. His mother worked at the paper; his brothers worked at the paper; they’re institutions,” adds Daley.
Marro was born in Rutland in 1948. He first began working for the Herald as a copy boy in the early 1960s.
Marro says it was his older brother Tony, a journalist who went on to win two Pulitzer Prizes, that got him interested in photography.
“In one of our old closets, way in the back of the house, he set up a portable dark room and he taught me how to do film," says Marro. "That’s how I got into developing pictures and things."
Marro studied history at Castleton State College, thinking he’d become a teacher. But a part-time job with the Herald during college turned into a full-time position after he graduated.
He says the job drew him in because it was different every day. And he loves sports.
“I mean, what’s better than being out on a spring day and watching a ball game and getting paid for it! Or in the fall, watching a soccer game and getting paid for it! Jesus, come on, that’s heaven! It’s heaven!” laughs Marro.
"I mean, what's better than being out on a spring day and watching a ball game and getting paid for it? Or in the fall, watching a soccer game and getting paid for it? Jesus, come on, that's heaven! It's heaven!" — AJ Marro
Marro says knowing so many people in town usually made his job easier, but not always. He remembers having to cover the funeral for former Rutland City Fire Chief Richard Barron.
“I went to school with his son, you know, so here they are bringing out the body and I had to get the shot and I knew the guy basically all my life and it was just tough. You don’t want to be in their way with a camera but you gotta get the picture. . . Thank God they all kind of liked me,” says Marro with a soft laugh.
Marro also captured historic events on film, like the 1973 Berwick hotel fire in Rutland that killed five people.
“I lost three cameras that day, [they] froze right up. It was amazing: it was like 80 degrees, 15 feet from the fire.” Marro said. “And you step into the shadow and it was minus 20.”
“My brother Nicky was hanging off the front of the building ... I mean, everybody was there, was all hands on deck,” Marro added.
After more than 50 years at the Herald, Marro says it's time to step back. While he'll still cover occasional sports events for the paper, he says he's looking forward to having more time for himself.
“I want to give the retired thing a shot. I want to give it a fair break,” he says. “Maybe I won't like it at all, I might be back there working in three weeks. I might become the greeter at Walmart. Now wouldn't that be a hoot!”