A man whose name was synonymous with quality portrait photography for 20 years passed away on Tuesday, April 23.
Melvin Pawlaczyk died at the age of 82.
From 1983 until his retirement in 2003, Pawlaczyk, who went by Mel Pawl, owned and operated Mel Pawl and Co. Photographers in downtown Oxford. His studio was originally located at 29 N. Washington St. before moving to 8 N. Washington St. in 1989.
Pawl once estimated he had conducted about 15,000 photo sessions with brides and grooms, wedding parties, families, newborns and graduating high school seniors.
He viewed his thousands of photographs as his legacy.
“I like that I’m leaving something special behind that families will keep for years,” he told the Leader in a 2003 interview.
Although the official name of his business was Mel Pawl and Co. Photographers, Pawl was always the only person behind the camera.
“I have a hard time delegating work to other photographers,” he said.
Pawl twice attempted to employ the services of other photographers, but in the end, it never worked out because he “couldn’t get used to it.”
“If my name’s going on something, I’m really fussy about it,” he said. “I have a hard time making excuses for somebody else.”
Pawl’s unwavering commitment to quality and customer satisfaction is what led his business to be ranked in the top 2 percent of studios nationwide for eight years, according to surveys conducted by Professional Photographers of America.
Pawl received his Master of Photography degree from Professional Photographers of America and served on the organization’s board of directors in Michigan.
Pawl’s interest in photography was sparked by an instant camera and a canoe trip down a northern Michigan river. During that trip, he quickly snapped a photo of an eagle in a tree. It turned out terribly, but the experience, coupled with Pawl’s natural desire to “do better,” spawned a new hobby.
“After that, things got out of hand and I started getting money for (my photos),” Pawl said.
Outside of photography, Pawl served in the United States Marine Corps from 1953-58 and attained the rank of sergeant.
Visitation for Pawl will take place from 3 to 8 p.m. on Sunday, April 28 at Lynch and Sons Funeral Directors (39 W. Burdick St.) in Oxford.
A funeral Mass will take place at St. Joseph Catholic Church (715 N. Lapeer Rd.) in Lake Orion on Monday, April 29. Prior to the start of the Mass at 11 a.m., there will be a visitation beginning at 10 a.m.
Pawl will be interred at Great Lakes National Cemetery in Holly.
Memorials may be made to the Michigan Humane Society or Residential Hospice.