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Faths produce new Russell Lee photo book

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 by Jo Clifton

Shudde Fath and her daughter, Betsy Fath Hiller, have published an enlightening new book of color photographs by renowned photographer Russell Lee, called “Russell Lee in Color.” Most people who know Electric Utility Commissioner Shudde Fath recognize that at 101 she is the embodiment of public service, the only member of any city commission who has served on a commission since its inception. But not everyone knows that her late husband, Conrad Fath, was best friends and fishing buddies with Lee. Lee shot the 162 previously unpublished color photographs while he and Fath piloted a yacht from Mamaroneck, New York, to Port Aransas in the summer of 1963. The book includes iconic photos of New York City, its bridges, its tugboats, electric power plants and fishermen, and then moves on to New Jersey, Delaware, Virginia, Florida and Louisiana. Some of the Austin Monitor‘s favorites include a derelict tugboat along the shoreline of North Carolina and a series of photos of a sponge fisherman and his boat at Cedar Key, Florida. Fath credited the folks at Holland Photo Imaging for their expertise in restoring old photos and their help with the book. Lee, who founded the photography program at the University of Texas’ Fine Arts Department, was best known for his depression-era photos. In 1936, Lee was hired by the Farm Security Administration and began roaming the country to take photos of life in the United States. Lee moved to Austin with his wife in 1947, where he began his longtime fishing hobby with Conrad Fath. He died in Austin in 1986. In 2016, the Austin Independent School District Board of Trustees voted to change the name of Robert E. Lee Elementary School to Russell Lee Elementary. Fath and her daughter are selling their book on They plan to autograph their book at Threadgill’s, 301 W. Riverside Dr., on Dec. 2 and Dec. 9 from 4 to 5 p.m. However, be advised that you must come with your own book because they will not be selling it at the restaurant.

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