By Paul Hanna
I looked at the clock, it was 4:47am, the ringing phone that had woken me was flashing the photographer’s name, Felix Ordoñez. I thought, “What the hell?” as I struggled to achieve some form of consciousness before answering. By the serious tone of Felix’s voice on the other end of the phone, I became immediately aware that something terrible had happened. “Buenos dias Paul, un coche bomba enorme acaba de estallar en Burgos,” (Paul, good morning, a huge car bomb just exploded in Burgos) were his first words. It was July 29, 2009, and ETA, the basque separatist rebels, had just blown up an enormous civil guards barracks in his home town of Burgos, only fifteen minutes earlier. Felix was already there, shooting pictures, describing the scene to me, and telling me that he would be transmitting pictures very soon.
I thought this anecdote was appropriate as a tribute to Felix’s professionalism and dedication. The scene sprang to mind vividly this morning when I received a call with news of his tragic and untimely death. Last night, after covering a Champions League soccer match in Madrid, Felix died after suffering a devastating heart attack as he drove back to his home town of Burgos.
Felix started working for Reuters in the 1990’s, mainly covering soccer in the beginning. Soon afterwards, his talent led to many assignments of all varieties in Spain and abroad for Reuters, including the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Euro soccer championships in Portugal, Austria and Ukraine, as well as the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
Felix was truly an exceptional sports photographer and a dedicated professional. He was the first and only photographer I ever saw transmitting with three mobile phones and laptops simultaneously. But beyond that, I imagine he will also be remembered as the great person he was and the lasting impression he made on colleagues as it was such a pleasure to work with him – always eager to perform better, to learn, and to share his own knowledge and experience. His passing is a real blow to all his colleagues here and abroad, as such a loss is difficult to understand.
Felix is survived by his wife Maribel, and two sons Ricardo and Alberto. Our thoughts and sympathy are with them.