Longtime photographer Schintz documented York County for generations

For many born and raised York countians, the name Bill Schintz brings feelings of nostalgia and gratitude.

At least that’s what’s been observed on social media by Mary Yeaple, special events coordinator for York City.

“I’ve seen so many posts of people writing about the photos he took for their high school graduation or family portrait,” Yeaple said.

Such photos were just a fraction of the shots Schintz, who died Saturday, Jan. 20, at age 73, took in the more than five decades he spent documenting York County.

York area photographer Bill Schintz, who freelanced for the York Dispatch for more than a decade. Schintz died Saturday, Jan. 20 at age 73. (Photo by Randy Flaum)

A York City resident, Schintz was “everywhere,” according Yeaple.

The breadth of Schintz’s work in the city made him the featured artist for the 2012 YorkFest Fine Arts Festival.

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Yeaple headed the festival for the first time that year — the first in which a photographer was given the distinction of featured artist — and said it was an obvious decision for organizers once his name was brought up.

“Around then he was celebrating 50 years as a photographer, and we thought, ‘You know what, let’s celebrate him and his body of work,’” Yeaple said.

“He was such a fixture,” she added.

Randy Flaum, a former photo editor for The York Dispatch, remembered calling Schintz on several occasions to obtain file art for stories because of his expansive archive and seeming omnipresence in the county.

“Someone needs to do an exhibit of his work,” Flaum declared.

Gordon Freireich, former editor of the York Sunday News, agreed.

“He was everywhere,” Freireich said.

Central Market, Martin Library, Continental Square — you name it, Schintz was there, and with frequency, according to Freireich.

“Bill just loved the York community,” he added.

York City Mayor Michael Helfrich said Schintz was an important part of documenting the city and its families, including Helfrich himself.

"His photos of us are hanging in so many living rooms across York City," Helfrich said.

Schintz's "friendly, jovial" face will be missed, Helfrich added.

York Dispatch: Schintz began his photography career as a high school student apprentice at York County's Gil Tunney Studio, according to "York Since 1741," a book by James Rudisill. 

While he was still in high school, he was hired by The York Dispatch to take photographs on a freelance basis.

"I was only 16 at the time," Schintz said in a video by The York Dispatch. "Anytime from that moment on that the Dispatch would call, I'd respond to take the photographs for them, and I really didn't turn any pictures down for about 17 years."

"Just about everybody who was in York in the '70s knew Bill," said local photographer Bil Bowden. "He was kind of like 'the' photographer."

Bowden recalled Schintz's work covering Hurricane Agnes in 1972.

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He went out in boats and waded in deep water, Bowden said, and he did it "when photography was tough," before the digital age.

"That’s when you had to worry about 30 frames," he said, referring to limited film rolls, and Schintz would have had to be careful not to get anything wet because it would have been ruined.

"I can’t imagine doing what he did," Bowden said. "He did a heck of a job in real trying conditions."

"Bill’s work has always been the hallmark, or beginning, of really good photojournalism here in York," he added. "All of us photographers wouldn’t be here unless he paved the way for us."

Portraits: Schintz opened a portrait studio in 1976 at 249 E. Market St., according to Rudisill's book, where he would take photographs for projects such as weddings and senior portraits — a job Bowden admired because it was a lot of work.

"He managed to do it all, and with a great deal of talent," Bowden said.

"To me, Bill was always one of the big names," said Chris Arendt, owner of Camera Center of York, where Schintz was a customer for many years.

If someone needed a portrait, "he had that classic look," Arendt said.

It didn't matter how Schintz felt on any given day, he said. He would always deliver quality work. 

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Family man: Apart from his work in the community, Schintz's biggest passion was his family, according to his obituary.

He is survived by his wife of 51 years, Carol Schintz; his three children, Ann, Kathleen and James; four grandchildren; and two sisters, Connie Tassia and Louise Nelson.

Arendt remembers often seeing Schintz on the street with his wife, on their way to the Copper Crust Co. in Central Market to grab a pastry.

"I’d always wave at them, and he would always ask me, 'How do you think photography's going?'" he said.

Arendt described Schintz as friendly, easygoing and accommodating.

"I don’t think I’ve ever seen him upset about anything ever," he said.

Bowden echoed Arendt's sentiments, calling Schintz a "class act," with a personality that mirrored his talent. He was "the nicest guy you could imagine," he said.

Family and friends will celebrate his life at 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 27, at the Woman's Club of York, 228 E. Market St. Memorial contributions can be sent to St. Patrick School, St. Patrick Church and York Catholic High School.