Canaday photographed lives of area residents, dead at 62

Dave Canaday, whose photography studio in downtown Grand Junction paid homage to local history even as he captured many residents for their most important events, died Sunday.

Canaday was 62.

Canaday and his wife, Victoria, operated Studio 119 Photography at 627 Grand Ave. since 1976.

That was the same house where Sam McMullin died of strychnine poisoning in a 1947 murder case that garnered national attention. Canaday was “the resident expert” on the death and the acquittal on murder charges of the former boyfriend of McMullin’s young wife.

“He was kind of a historian” in another way, that of cataloguing the events of residents’ lives, Victoria
Canaday said. “I don’t think he saw himself that way, but I did.”

Many families had their early portraits, school photos, wedding albums and other commemorations of important events memorialized with photos by Canaday, Victoria said.

“Everyone I run into knows my dad,” from having their photos taken by him to working with him on community events, said their son, D’Ray.

One young man asked his girlfriend to the studio, ostensibly for passport photos, Victoria said. The girlfriend arrived in a bit of a huff and went for her sitting.

Canaday, who had been brought into the boyfriend’s plan, captured the man opening a jewelry box pulled from his pocket and the fiancee’s reaction.

“She floated down the stairs,” Victoria Canaday said. “Dave was so observant.”

Studio 119 — named for Canaday’s lucky number — also traced the progress of portraiture, from studio sittings to photos taken at places such as Grand Mesa and Colorado National Monument, friend Dave Sundal said.

Canaday’s ability to restore old photographs also made him a valuable historical asset, said Dave Bailey, curator of history for the Museum of the West.

Victoria Canaday said she will continue restoring old photos as best she can and convert Studio 119’s collection of photos into digital images.

Canaday was a hot-air balloon aficionado, or “balloonatic,” as well. In one self-portrait, he wore a monocle reminiscent of Phineas T. Fogg, the airborne adventurer of Jules Verne’s “Around the World in 80 Days.”

In addition to his wife and son, Canaday is survived by a brother, Bruce Neuman of Grand Junction.

Arrangements have yet to be made, but Victoria said she was considering contributing enough money in
Canaday’s name to make him a Paul Harris fellow in Rotary.


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