Harvey Tuttle’s legacy lives on in Bixby Knolls camera store

<strong>Dana “Harvey” Tuttle, Jr. at his camera store in Bixby Knolls, circa 1947</strong>

Dana “Harvey” Tuttle, Jr. at his camera store in Bixby Knolls, circa 1947

The man for whom Bixby Knolls’ Tuttle Cameras is the namesake passed peacefully at home on March 12, 2011.
Dana “Harvey” Tuttle, Jr. was born in Wisconsin on April 14, 1921, and he moved to Long Beach with his parents when he was about 2 years old. After his mother died when he was 5, Harvey and his older brother, Richard, were moved from family to family while growing up. Later, Harvey lived with his father and stepmother in Long Beach, near the bluff on 12th Place. While they were living there, the 1933 earthquake struck the city, destroying many of the nearby homes, but the house in which his family lived is still standing.
Harvey and Richard worked for film-developing companies, but when World War II broke out, they both enlisted in the Army. During their service, the brothers, both of whom continued to work in photography, corresponded and decided that they would open a photography business after getting out of the military.
Harvey served three years in Kodiak, Alaska, and was then stationed in Oklahoma. There he met James Anna, whom he later married in January 1945, before he was shipped to Italy, where he served his last two years of duty.
After their tours of duty, the Tuttle brothers combined their wisdom, money and skills to open two camera stores– the first in Belmont Shore, managed by Richard, and the second in Bixby Knolls, run by Harvey. At one point, Harvey had all three of his children working for him at the Bixby Knolls store. 
Harvey continued in the camera store business until his 70s, when he decided it was time to retire. Harvey then sold the business to two of his employees: Eric Vitwar and Brian Johnson.
“In 1997, Harvey announced at a staff meeting that he was going to retire and try to sell the store,” Vitwar said. “When we first heard that, Brian Johnson and I decided to try to pull funds together to buy the business.” According to Vitwar, six months later the deal was done. “Harvey handed over the keys in January of 1998.” (Vitwar bought out Johnson’s interest in the business in 2002.)
“I worked for Harvey for nearly 10 years,” Vitwar said. “He was a great mentor. He treated customers and staff incredibly and was just a great boss to work for. He was never mad, never yelled.”
In addition to Harvey’s love of photography, he traveled to spend time with his
family. He and his wife, James Anna, took several trips to Alaska, where their daughter, Margie, and her family live. For a couple of years, Harvey and James Anna lived in Arkansas, James Anna’s place of birth. They moved back to Long Beach because they missed their family here.
They had three children: Edward, who would become a Long Beach council member, born in 1947; Susan, born in 1950; and Margie, born in 1954. Harvey was preceded in death by Edward, who died five years ago, and by his son-in-law, Ronald Mayo, who passed five months ago. Edward, survived by his wife, Kay, had two sons: Matthew and Joshua. Susan, widow of Ronald Mayo, has two children: Dana and Daniel. Margie has three sons: Justin, Vincent and Quentin.
Harvey was buried after a grave-site service on March 17, 2011 at Forest Lawn.  When he died, he was one month and two days shy of his 90th birthday.
When discussing the loss of his friend and mentor, Vitwar said that he felt blessed to have been with Tuttle just hours before he passed. “He changed my life,” Vitwar said. “[The business] provided for him and his family, and now it is doing the same for me and my family. It is a real loss, but I’m thrilled and tickled to carry on the legacy.”

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