Merced remembers longtime Sun-Star photographer on one-year anniversary of her death

Marci Stenberg, a longtime photographer for the Merced Sun-Star, died little more than a year ago at her home of natural causes, authorities said at the time.

Stenberg had worked for the newspaper for nearly a quarter of a century. During her tenure as a photographer with the Sun-Star, she became a fixture around Merced, photographing everything from football games and parades to school activities and crime scenes.

She was so good at capturing the images of life in community that she was often called the “eyes of Merced County” by people familiar with her work.

At the time of her death, Sheriff Mark Pazin called Stenberg, 66, a Merced “icon” who was as much a part of the Merced landscape as the subjects and activities she chronicled.

Pazin and colleagues remembered Stenberg’s gentle nature. But she also was a determined photographer, not above doing a little “sneaking” to get a better shot, Pazin said. “She was always very professional, but it could be a little cat-and-mouse game,” he said. “I’d see her on one side of the street, then she’d pop up on another.”

She was popular among first-responders, routinely convincing them to let her get close to the action. They said her positive attitude and quick smile made it nearly impossible to tell her no.

Today, her work lives on, in photos she took during 24 years at the Sun-Star and in some unpublished images she captured before Christmas in Merced last year. In tribute to her and her work, the Sun-Star features some of those 2012 holiday images in today’s edition.