Cover photo for Jeffrey Tinsley's Obituary
Jeffrey Tinsley Profile Photo

Jeffrey Tinsley

Mr. Jeffrey Wayne Tinsley of Arlington Virginia, passed away from brain cancer on December 7, 2017 at The Halquist Memorial Inpatient Hospice Center in Arlington, Virginia. He was 70 years old. Jeff, son of Maxwell Tinsley and Edna Phillips, was born in Washington DC on August 5, 1947. He grew up in Garrett Park, Maryland where he attended Garrett Park Elementary, Kensington Junior High and Walter Johnson High School.

His boyhood hobbies included creating 8mm special effects films with his friends, featuring monsters inspired by “Famous Monsters of Filmland” magazine.
Jeff attended Sterling College in Kansas but lived the majority of his life in the DC Metropolitan area. He was a true local, and his hometown was very much a part of who he was.
Jeff worked as a photographer for 29 years at the Smithsonian Institution. For 10 of those years he was Division Chief of Photographic Services at the National Museum of American History.
He was an enthusiastic collector of antiques and memorabilia. Jeff was also passionate about cars, known as a “long time drag racing shutter bug” and Buick-lover.
He photographed the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival for more than 29 years and will be remembered for his wonderful images that “have the ability to tell stories and share knowledge without needing an in-depth description.” He was very much a people person and that ability to connect with others came through in his photography and his friendships. He will be missed by many people from many different walks of life. His photographs of the Festival will forever be preserved in the Ralph Rinzler Folklife Archives and Collections at the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. He was particularly proud of his photographs of the Dalai Lama, taken in 2000 and also having documented innumerable events for the Smithsonian over the years including multiple presidential inaugurations.

He is survived by his wife, Beth Laakso Tinsley, his sister, Diane Whittington, Marsha Tinsley, mother of his son, Justin Phillips Tinsley, and 2 granddaughters, Eva (6) and Presley (20 months) Tinsley.

A Celebration of Life will be held on Friday, March 9th in the Presidential Suite at the National Museum of American History Museum from 12-2 p.m.
Donations in his name can be made to the American Brain Tumor Association via their website:

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of Jeffrey Tinsley, please visit our flower store.


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