June 18, 1958 - June 20, 2020
Written by Bill Webb ’76
Nate arrived at Friends in seventh grade and immediately started introducing our class, which had been somewhat protected, to more of the 1970s downtown New York that surrounded us. That year, in Mr. Supton’s English class, he wrote a poem about a dream of a purple cow floating in the air.
Over the years, I would run unexpectedly into Nate on the street, usually near Second Avenue below 14th, and we’d find a place to sit and share what we’d learned since the last time. His sharing, in hindsight, was based on his incredible caring for people, it wasn’t about him.
Written by Jon Fabricant ’76
The things about Nate that stand out in my mind are easy to list. His warmth, and the fact that he expressed it effusively, physically and without reservation. Nate always wanted you to know he cared about you with a big bear hug and a kiss! His loyalty as a friend and his efforts to nourish and support his friendships. His humor, sometimes sweet, sometimes dark, sometimes mischievous and sometimes cutting and sarcastic—we shared many good laughs even in the difficult last months of his life. His stories, especially the ones about his parents, whom he loved and missed every day. His generosity and the sense of welcome you always felt around him.
The story I’m going to tell goes way back to the late 1970’s. I think it was the summer of my junior year of college. I was working at a restaurant in Wellfleet, MA on Cape Cod, and I accidentally ran into Nate and his parents who were on vacation. We made a plan to meet later or the next day. In the time before we were to meet, I got the tragic and traumatizing news that our classmate and my very close friend Harvey Bumgardner was killed in a plane crash. When Nate and his parents arrived, I was collapsed and feeling intense grief and shock. Nate’s warmth and support and the weird chance that he—someone who also knew Harvey from the same place I did—bonded us in the indescribable intensity and sadness of that moment.
Nate and I shared many more sad moments and tears in the last years of his life; I will miss you Brother!
Written by Phil Oetiker (a neighbor of Jon’s who worked with Nate)
Nate Ranger turned a lifelong love of movies into a successful career behind the camera. Show business ran in the family. In Nate’s case, he started out working for a top NYC camera equipment rental company in the early 1980s. There he met many of the working cinematographers in New York. He joined their ranks in 1986, passing the union test to become an assistant cameraman. He worked on commercials for a few years, and then branched out to movies and TV series. Moving up to the classification of first assistant cameraman, Nate would master the difficult skill of keeping the camera in focus as the camera and/or the actors moved. His credits include many feature films, working with directors Spike Lee, Noah Baumbach, Ron Howard and Ernest Dickerson, to name a few. A favorite of his was Billy Bob Thornton, for whom he “pulled focus” on the 1996 Oscar-winning feature, Sling Blade. In television, Nate is best remembered for being one of the original camera assistants on the first seasons of Law & Order. Later in his career, Nate served as a guest instructor to cinematography students at New York University and The New York Film Academy. Off of the set Nate enjoyed giving back, in the form of mentoring dozens of young, aspiring cinematographers. He helped them with their training, their networking and their confidence.