Community mourns loss of ‘photographer ambassador’

DRYDEN — Known for his passion for photography, his love of nature, and his concern and compassion for his fellow veterans, photographer Mike Mercier has brought light to almost every corner of the community.

Today, locals light candles in memory of that glow and in sadness upon learning of his death on Monday, January 11. Mercier was battling Merkel cell carcinoma, a rare and aggressive skin cancer. He was 69 years old.

Friends say his award-winning photography, volunteer service at the Seven Ponds Nature Center, work with veterans groups and more have elevated Mercier to icon status in the region and are remembered as a ambassador of good manners, kind words and good stewardship of the land. .

“He cared about things,” says longtime friend and fellow photographer Stu Davis. “I traveled around the county with him taking pictures of barns, and he knew everyone, he knew all the roads, he was friends with everyone in the county. He was just a damn good guy.

Mike Mercier in traditional attire as he prepares to take part in the old fashioned ice cream sundae at Seven Ponds Winterfest.

Indeed, Mercier’s talents for photography attracted local and national attention. His work has been featured in The New York Times and National Geographic. The photos, taken while vacationing with his late wife Donna in the Florida Everglades, showed a rare struggle between an alligator and a Burmese python snake. Park rangers sent the photos to The New York Times, which featured the photo on their front page. He also appeared on Good Morning America to discuss how he captured the unusual event.

National Geographic brought him back to the Everglades to film a special about this unique encounter. Always humble and kind, Mercier said he was “very lucky” to be “in the right place at the right time.”

Locally, Mercier was a founding member of the Seven Ponds Camera Club and the nature center’s Bee Club, as well as volunteering at many of the center’s special events.

“Mike was a longtime friend of Seven Ponds, and not only was he a volunteer at many of the events, he always had his camera and he took some wonderful photos that put the nature center in the spotlight. and shared the impact the nature center has had on so many people,” says Seven Ponds General Manager Daryl Bernard. “He had a unique gift and talent for this. He was such a positive person. »

Bernard says Mercier’s “positive vibes” were evident to everyone he came across.

“He was special and loved by everyone, and he was an integral part of the Seven Ponds family. Everyone he interacted with, he left them feeling better than before. He will be greatly missed. »

Mercier began his career in the early 1970s as a photographer for a workers’ newspaper in public relations. He worked with famed black and white photographer Joe Clark, where he created advertisements for Jack Daniels whiskey. Mercier was a fan of the darkroom where he had fun restoring period photos. He was a staff member at County Press for 19 years and a part-time photographer for the Tri-City Times for the past six years.

Sharing her passion and talent for photography was a gift to many at Seven Ponds, as was her caring nature.

“He was an encouraging and kind member of our (photography) club and he always had positive feedback,” says LeeAnn McLane-Goetz. “He was a wonderful mentor to the members and was willing to share his tips and tricks.”

To keep Mercier’s memory and spirit alive, the Seven Ponds Nature Center Photography Club is holding a fundraiser to purchase a bench and possibly plant a tree in his memory. Donations can be made online at

A complete obituary appears on page 13-A.

To sign the guestbook, go to

Catherine Minolli is editor of the Tri-City Times. She started as a freelance writer at The Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.

Sam D. Gomez