If you’ve been here for more than a few minutes, there is a good chance the man called “Dayton’s photographer” snapped your photo.
Thomas Sheibenberger, the man behind the lens at some of Dayton’s biggest and smallest galas, festivals and parties, died of natural causes on Friday, Jan. 12, his son and namesake said.
He was 71.
Sheibenberger’s son, Thomas Sheibenberger Jr. of New Lebanon, said there were terabyte after terabyte of photo files on harddrives in his Xenia Avenue home.
“He’s always been a social butterfly. That never really changed,” he said. “He just had a passion for photography. He loved networking. He loved knowing important people.”
Often with his girlfriend Patricia O'Connell, it was rare to see the senior Thomas Sheibenberger without a camera or two dangling around his neck and suspenders holding up his slacks.
He mixed, mingled and snapped photos of the crowds at events ranging from the Dayton VA’s Christmas Eve Service to the Dayton Art Institute’s Art Ball to Ale Fest to the Dayton unit of NAACP Freedom Fund Dinner to Hauntfest to Dayton’s homicide victim memorial program.
>> PHOTOS: Dayton Art Institute Art Ball 2017
The elder Thomas Sheibenberger graduated from Fairview High School and was part of the first graduating class at Wright State University, where he studied business.
His son has set up a GoFundMe fundraising page seeking $7,000 for a special memorial service for his father.
The description reads:
In memory of the unforgettable face behind the lens.
Whether you saw him standing at the end of a stage during your performance, posed for him holding your award from the NAACP, or looked up from the mud at a volleyball game to see a man with a fishing hat, net shirt, and suspenders taking a photo of you. If you were at a Dayton event then you were likely to see Thomas Sheibenberger capturing all the moments and hearts that he could.
I have come to realize over the last few days all the hearts he touched in one way or another and the vast number of people that cared so much about him. Because he brought so many smiles to the community we would like to have less of a funeral and more of a celebration of life, for all to come and give one last goodbye to such a familiar face and a one of a kind soul.
Many of you have been so kind to offer help in any way you could and in all honesty, we feel it would be unfair to not accept the outpouring of help and love so many of you want to give. We originally planned on a small memorial but the number of you that cared about him is by no means small. If anyone would like to be a part of his celebration, or contribute in a monetary, or non-monetary way we would more than grateful.
Plans such as a venue or catering still need to be established so if any of you have any thought we are open to ideas. Feel free to contact me at any time! https://www.facebook.com/thomas.sheibenberger.96
He was Dayton's photographer and friend, Dayton was his family.
An accountant by trade, Sheibenberger started flexing his photo muscles during the time of the 100th anniversary of flight celebrations here in Dayton in the summer of 2003, his son said.
>> RELATED: From the archives: Inventing Flight
He mainly posted the photos he took to his Facebook account, kept them as part of his collection of thousands of photos or made CDs for people, his son said.
“I think the photography was almost (an) excuse to network,” Sheibenberger said. “I think most of the good ones are one Facebook.”
He said there has been an outpouring of love since his father death. Sheibenberger Jr. announced his father’s death on Facebook.
“I really didn’t realize how popular he was in the community until I posted the post,” he said. “The response was really large.”
HERE ARE SOME RELATIVELY RECENT PHOTOS SHARED BY DAYTON’S PHOTOGRAPHER: