On March 7, 1998, an employee with a grudge showed up at the main office of the Connecticut Lottery and started shooting, killing four of his bosses and himself.
As the news broke, Bruce Moyer was interviewing for a photography editor's job at the Hartford Courant. As reporters and photographers rushed to their cars, an editor declined the applicant's offer to help.
"The editor said, 'I'm sorry about this, but you're going to have to stand to the side,' " recalled Suzette Moyer, Mr. Moyer's wife.
Mr. Moyer did not stand to the side. Nor, by the time other editors heard his thoughts on which of the incoming photos of the shootings they should use and how, did anyone want him to.
He got the job. The Courant's package on the lottery shooting won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news reporting.
At the Courant, he won the National Press Photographers Association's Picture Editor of the Year award for three consecutive years, from 2002 through 2004.
He didn't bother to mention the awards to his family. In 2006 he moved to the Tampa Bay Times, where he won the NPPA's Picture Editor of the Year a fourth time in 2012. His droll response to congratulatory colleagues: "I guess you should want my autograph now."
Mr. Moyer, the Times' deputy director of photography and an incandescent source of inspiration to many, died Monday, of central nervous system lymphoma. He was 52.
Peers remember Mr. Moyer as an unmatched technician, an expert on lighting who kept ideas in a Moleskine scrapbook to use some day, only to give them away to photographers who might need them sooner.
"Instead of going to meetings and giving us beautiful inspiration and great ways to shoot things, he could have just gone to the streets and outshot anybody at this paper," said Times photographer John Pendygraft, 43. "I mean, flat out."
Times readers saw his work in his sleek photos for Bay magazine, or shots of food or fashion. Mostly, his influence stood out through his work with other photographers.
"Even though I was the department head, he was the driving force behind the excellence in photography and imagery," said Times photography director Boyzell Hosey, 49. "The big ideas and spending time with the photographers and editing projects — that was Bruce. He was the one who really made the work shine."
He made decisions quickly, needing only minutes to select photos he wanted among hundreds submitted after time-consuming projects.
"Bruce was a very swift, good editor," said Suzette Moyer, 49, who has worked with her husband at four newspapers and is now a design editor at the Times.
Then, she said, he came home and raved about the photographers he was working with.
"It was almost mind-boggling how precise he was," said Hosey. "It was almost at times his Achilles' heel. You would sometimes leave the room feeling less than adequate. I would say, 'Bruce, you are almost too good. Sometimes you need to slow down.' "
Bruce D. Moyer was born in Utica, N.Y., in 1961, the son of an engineer and a librarian. He spent part of his youth in Daytona Beach, where he picked up a love of auto racing.
He met Suzette Beigel at the Naples Daily News, his first job out of what is now the Southeast Center for Photographic Studies. He proposed to her by the water at Fort Zachary Taylor Park in Key West, at sunset, a time of day that satisfied his eternal fascination with light.
On Feb. 29, 1992, they married — again at sunset — on Naples Beach. Because it was a leap year day, he said, perhaps he only needed to buy an anniversary gift every four years. Two years later they moved to the Seattle area, where both got jobs at the Bremerton, Wash., Sun.
After moving from the Courant to the Times, they bought a home in Palmetto at the edge of a golf course.
About 11 months ago, Mr. Moyer began to feel tired. He also had trouble remembering recent events. Chemotherapy appeared to stop the lymphoma, but by late November the disease was again advancing, marked by an inoperable brain tumor.
Suzette Moyer decided to discontinue treatment. It was a tough call; one supported by their son, Dakota, 19; and daughter, Callen, 17.
"That's not how he wanted to live," his wife said.
Mr. Moyer died at home Monday, at sunset.
Andrew Meacham can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248.