In Memoriam: Roy Cajero

Roy Cajero and Libby Carroll at Arts in the Park in Audubon Park

I met his work before I met him, and I was drawn to his vision instantly. His photographs were unlike anything else in the Memphis Room. They display an intimacy all while maintaining a wider, more objective perspective. He captured the mundane, but managed to elevate it to the extraordinary.

When I encountered the first two notebooks of his photographs, I had no idea who Roy Cajero was — the name was completely unfamiliar to me. I was very surprised to learn that we had worked at the library at the same time and that although he had retired, he was still a frequent visitor. One day, someone who knew of my growing obsession with him told me that he was in the building. I stalked him like prey.

I was very nervous to introduce myself to him, but there was no need. To meet Roy Cajero was to meet humility and kindness embodied. He was a soft-spoken, thoughtful man who was somewhat bewildered by my interest in him. I wanted desperately to interview him and to get some background on the person behind the beautiful photographs; I wanted to add his story to the digital archive along with the images I loved. But he wanted nothing of the sort. An intensely private man, he preferred that I write nothing about him.

Despite his hesitancy to be in the spotlight, he willingly agreed to share his work with the Memphis Room, and he has spent the past few years preparing hundreds of photographs for addition to the digital archive. His gifts will be forever in the hands of the community, and I greatly appreciate his willingness to share himself in that way.

I am also thankful for the gift of knowing him. Just as his photographs led me to examine Memphis from a different point of view, he could always help me look at life with a slightly new perspective. With a sly joke or a twinkle of the eye, this quiet man exuded warmth and put the people around him at ease, all while challenging us to think and grow.

Thank you, Roy. For your many gifts to the library and the Memphis Room, but most importantly for the gifts to your loved ones, friends, and admirers — the latter of which I am a proud member.

Oh, and sorry for breaking our deal.  I know you never wanted attention, but you deserve it nonetheless.




Filed under Collections, In Memoriam, Libraries, Photographs, Portraits, Volunteers

4 responses to “In Memoriam: Roy Cajero

  1. Bettie

    I really enjoyed this article. Beautifully written and very precise. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Tara

    Thank you for this lovely portrait of one of the most humble, gentle and talented people I knew. Roy was part of my extended family, and we didn’t have the opportunity for numerous interactions, but on the occasions we did, he was thoughtful, exacting in his observations of all subjects, and incredibly sweet. He is missed.

  3. I met Roy through mutual friends, and enjoyed his friendship for nearly 20 years. He was simply the finest person I ever met. No pretense. No games. Just kindness. The world is truly a lesser place without him.

  4. Jay

    Roy was one of the two main loves of my life when we were young. Though it did not work because we were such different people, Roy was a very special person. He was ethical, principled, dedicated, quiet and gentle. Our lives have been a parallel of each other’s lives, with similar principles and goals. Over the past 30 years I have never forgotten you. I just found out you died you, dearest Roy. I hope you have found what you sought now, and that you are wrapped in love and tranquility: I am sorry your life ended so soon. Farewell, till the next time, JAP

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