BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Geoff Gove, a photojournalist and member of the Bloomfield Open Space Committee, has died. Gove passed away Aug. 13, his 75th birthday, as a result of a head injury sustained July 21 in an automobile accident on Route 46, in Little Falls.
“He was a very kind and gentle person who appreciated people for who they were,” said his wife, Rebecca, in a telephone interview earlier this week. “He was very humble and giving of his time for community causes.”
Gove was often at township council meetings and would invariably be seen taking photographs at Bloomfield events. He was appointed to the Open Space Committee earlier this year and was a founding member of the Bloomfield Third Riverbank Association, an organization calling attention to the need to save a tract of wetlands from development. The tract, generally known as the Scientific Glass site, is located on Lion Gate Drive. An open space project is currently proposed for the area.
Born in San Mateo, Calif., on Aug. 13, 1943, Gove attended San Francisco State College, receiving a liberal arts BA with emphasis in film, TV and media. He studied photography with Ansel Adams and attended photography classes at the New School, NYU, the International Center of Photography and the School of Visual Arts, all in NYC. He was a fine art photographer with Corbis and Image Bank/Getty Images and many of his photographs appear online. His work is exhibited on ArtWanted.com, viewbug.com, 500px.com and Flickr.com. He administered a number of websites, including Brookdale Connections, Citizens of Bloomfield and 366 things to do in NORTH JERSEY. Gove also worked in real estate, for Century 21, and part-time at Zi Zia Pizzeria and Trattoria, Bloomfield.
Rebecca met her future husband at a folk-dancing class in New York City. She lived in Park Slope and he was a resident of Greenwich Village. Smitten, Gove would go the dance studio where she worked as an instructor to photograph her.
“He loved to take pictures and dance,” she said. “He loved all kinds of music, especially jazz. And he loved animals. We had a loving and artistic relationship.”
The accident occurred, Rebecca said, as they were returning home from Mendham where they had attended a Morris County 4-H carnival.
Rebecca said she was driving and it was raining. The car ahead slowed and she swerved away from it. Her car hydroplaned and struck the median; the airbags deployed.
“Geoff seemed OK,” she said. “He had the breath knocked out of him, but he was talking.”
EMS arrived and noticed blood on the back of Gove’s head. Rebecca said the collision had cause something in the rear of the cabin to strike him. He was brought to Mountainside Hospital by ambulance.
He was lucid, but a CAT scan revealed a small brain bleed or subdural hematoma. According to Rebecca, they were told the injury was in a stable area, but Gove was kept for observation. He was taking a blood thinner because of a heart condition and was taken off this.
A second CAT scan revealed that the hematoma possibly increased in size, but still the area was stable. A third scan showed no change and Gove was released July 28.
“He seemed OK,” Rebecca said.
However, on the night of Aug. 1, Gove began experiencing headaches and nausea. The following morning he was incoherent and 911 was called. He was taken to University Hospital, Newark.
“He was in a coma from then on,” Rebecca said. “I never got to talk with him again.”
Her husband had many friends in the community, Rebecca said, and many reached out to her during the ordeal. She said residents Mary Shaughnessy, Susan Herbert, and Councilman Nicholas Joanow were steadfast.
“They were very good friends to Geoff,” she said. “They were by our side.”
Joanow, who was also a member of Third Riverbank Association, remembered Gove as honest and sincere; a friend of many years and a wonderful photographer.
“He was very passionate in terms of his environmental and historic preservation advocacy,” Joanow said in a telephone interview. “His passing is a loss. He was simply a man with the best interests of this town at heart.”
Hebert recalled Gove as a shy and gentle soul who worked hard to keep the Lion Gate tract from being developed and that he had many exquisite photographs online. She had met Gove at a forum discussing the Lion Gate tract.
“He was so talented,” she said. “It’s remarkable to see his photographs.”
Mayor Michael Venezia called Gove a great member of the township.
“He volunteered countless hours to various committees and will be missed,” he said.
Venezia said he wished there were many more like Gove in Bloomfield.
Shaughnessy remembered Gove as a man of few words who spoke through his art and photography, often focusing on images of Bloomfield, old and new, as well as stunning, abstract photos that played with color and light.
“He often turned up at town meetings, fairs and environmental cleanups with his camera, documenting the gatherings on a couple of his blogs, Bloomfield Greenways and Vintage Bloomfield,” Shaughnessy wrote in an email. “His favorite shooting location, though, was the vacant Scientific Glass site, where he captured seasonal changes and a plethora of wildlife that populated the wooded land.”
She said Gove devoted several years of his life fighting against the development of this site.
“For that we will always be grateful,” she said.