ROCHELLE — Every time Rich Harvey drives by a tree planted on Purple Pass, he thinks of Todd Smith.
He pictures Smith on the football field, wrestling mat or basketball court talking to kids or coaches. The longtime Rochelle Township High School sports photographer and booster club president passed away in December. The tree was planted in his honor on May 17.
“We felt we needed to do something to honor him for how he was a part of RTHS,” Harvey, the school’s athletic director, said. “He was always there to support kids and coaches. Any time you lose someone who was so ingrained in what you do, it’s a challenge. We miss him dearly.”
Harvey said the school has received the plaque to accompany the tree this week and a dedication is planned for a later date. There are multiple monument trees around the school’s property.
The tree was sponsored by the booster club and a couple of community donations. Harvey wanted to thank the club, along with Maintenance Director Mark Klouse, who picked out and planted the glory maple tree.
Smith passed away at the age of 62. After years as an ironworker, he pursued his passion in photography. He took and shared countless photos of many Rochelle community activities, sporting events, weddings and other celebrations.
Originally, Hub Sports Photography was Smith’s main contribution to local athletics. He sold photos online and donated the money back to the school. He took team pictures and shot photos at school events like dances.
“He was the booster club president and did an outstanding job on that for years,” Harvey said. “He always had a smile on his face. He was easy to get along with. He always asked if anybody needed anything. People like him are important to our kids and we’re going to miss him.”