CONCORD, N.H. (AP) – Former Concord Monitor photographer Preston Gannaway, was on her way to a new job in Colorado when she found out she had won this year’s Pulitzer Prize in Feature Photography.

Gannaway won the award for documenting how the family of maternity nurse Carolynne St. Pierre’s coped with her terminal illness.

St. Pierre died at home on Feb. 10. 2007. Gannaway, 30, was there.

“It never really occurred to me I could actually win,” Gannaway said at the Monitor newsroom during a cake and champagne celebration Monday. “When they called, I started shaking.”

Gannaway started documenting the family in the spring of 2006, two years after Carolynne was diagnosed with a rare kind of liver cancer.

She said one of St. Pierre’s biggest fears was that her youngest son, now 5, wouldn’t remember his mother. And she continued to photograph the family after St. Pierre died.

“I just wanted to show what it’s like for a family a month after the loss, two months after the loss,” Gannaway said. “I felt like there was just so much of a story to tell.”

Dan Habib, the Monitor’s former photography editor, agreed.

“It wasn’t just a story about dying,” Habib said. “It was a story about when a tragedy like that happens, what’s the impact on the family? And how does the adult left behind manage and grieve?”

This is the first time the Concord Monitor has won a Pulitzer Prize. It is the highest honor a journalist can receive.

Gannaway joined the Monitor in 2003. Before that, she interned at the Santa Fe New Mexican and the Bangor Daily News.

She is about to start working for The Rocky Mountain News. A native of North Carolina, Gannaway began her career at the Coalfield Progress in rural southwest Virginia after graduating from Virginia Intermont College, according to her Web site.

The award and $10,000 prize was given “for a distinguished example of feature photography in black and white or color, which may consist of a photograph or photographs, a sequence or an album, in print or in print and online,” according to the Pulitzer Web site.

The announcements were made Monday afternoon.

Also nominated as finalists in the category were: David Guttenfelder of The Associated Press for his harrowing portfolio of Vietnamese children afflicted by the toxic legacy of Agent Orange, three decades after the Vietnam War ended, and Mona Reed of The Dallas Morning News for her memorable pictures of disadvantaged Texans hidden amid the state’s economic abundance.

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