Longtime Cleveland Browns sideline photographer Ron Kuntz has passed away earlier this week at the age of 78.
A photographer who cared about his craft, Kuntz served as a mentor to former Browns defensive lineman Jerry Sherk. When Sherk was recovering from an injury and took an interest in photography, he sought the advice of Kuntz, whom he later covered many events with.
“As a shooter, because he was so good at it, his lasting legacy will be all the people that he touched, and all his relationships,” Sherk said. “He liked keeping in contact with people and he just took joy at the interaction. People will remember him for his relationships and bubbly personality and always a smile.
“I got to know him as a bright guy who had a lot of stories. Three-fourths of the way into my career, I had a knee injury and I was bored, so I started talking to Ronnie more about what he did, camera equipment and shooting sports. We struck up a pretty close friendship, and he would show me how to shoot photos, what kind of cameras to buy and he helped me build my first dark room at my home.
“When you were with him, he would always tell stories, but he would almost always lead off in this way: ‘Did I ever tell you the time…?’ When he said that, you knew you were in for a good three, four, five or ten-minute story. You didn’t mind because they were always great stories.”
During his career, Kuntz covered every sport, from football, basketball, and baseball, to golf, boxing, horse racing and the Olympic Games. He also served as a news photographer, covering the Hough Riots and Kent State war protest, as well as the murder trials of Sam Sheppard.
After concluding his career with United Press International, Kuntz worked as a freelance photographer.
“His photography and the way he was as a person kind of went together,” Sherk said. “He always saw everything anew. He saw everything through the eyes of wonder, like a child would. That’s the way he treated people. When you saw him, he would have the joy of the first time he ever saw you. It was the same thing when he shot pictures.
“He just enjoyed putting people in positive situations or poses. One of his biggest attributes was his wonder. He was just thrilled to be alive in the world.”