|Norfolk Public Library||Sargeant Memorial Collection||Norfolk Memories|
Harden David "Volly" Vollmer, Sr. (1892 - 1971)
H. D. Vollmer was the "Charles Borjes" for the Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch here in Norfolk during the 1910s to 1950s. He was born in Richmond, Virginia, on 30 December 1892 to Charles D. Vollmer Aurelia Lockhard. He spent his first seven years growing up in Richmond before his family moved to Norfolk in 1899. Vollmer attended most of his grade school here in Norfolk and begun to get interested in art during third grade that evolved into a lifelong passion. He started working for the Old Dominion Tobacco Company as a bookkeeper and Virginia Electric & Power Company, VEPCO, (now Dominion Power) before joining the Norfolk Ledger Dispatch in 1917 as a sports and general reporter. World War I interrupted his career plans when he joined the Army and he was assigned to the 75th Photo Section of the Army Signal Corps from May 1918 to February 1919. During his stint in the Army Signal Corps, he was stationed at an Eastman Kodak Plant where he learned photography in depth and honed his natural artistic talent to become a much acclaimed photographer.
Vollmer met and courted Gertrude Elise Sturm for about two years before marrying her in Rochester, New York. They had a son, Harden David Vollmer junior and a daughter, Clara J. Vollmer, both who remained in Norfolk. His passion for art and his natural artistic talents came full bloomed when he started showcasing his work in different artistic mediums. Vollmer became a member of the Norfolk Art Corner and started the Norfolk Photography Club. He took part in over 50 shows for the Art Corner while displaying his works at regional art and photography exhibits. Vollmer continued to work for the Norfolk Ledger-Dispatch until April 1958 when he finally retired after 43 years of capturing memorable shots of life in Norfolk and Tidewater region. He developed a deep friendship, both professional and personal, with Charles Borjes of the Virginian-Pilot. Clara Vollmer remembers that her father and Charles Borjes both loathed covering the annual debutante ball as the worst assignment in their jobs. Vollmer kept busy during his retirement years with his artwork. He expanded his artistic passions by learning different mediums like etching, pastel painting, soapstone & plaster carving, watercolors, linoleum block printing, and lithography. His art work appeared in the second printing of "Light's O'day" by Charles Day.
H. D. Vollmer died at the age of 78 in a Norfolk hospital on 23 July 1971 and was buried in his family plot at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Norfolk, Virginia. He has left future generations of Norfolk a wealth of unforgettable images of Norfolk and the surrounding region both in photographic forms and art.
Photograph: H D. Vollmer from about the 1950s. Courtesy of his daughter, Clara J. Vollmer of Norfolk, Virginia.
Written by W. Troy Valos, December 2010.