Pulitzer Prize-winning news photographer, Joe Marquette, dead at 79

UPI photographer Joe Marquette shot this memorable photo of Sebastian Coe in a 1500 meter race for which he won the the gold for Great Britain in the 1980 Moscow Olympics.Marquette, who died Nov. 5, won first place in the sports category for the photo from the World Press Photo contest. Photo by Joe Marquette/UPI

TULSA, Okla., Nov. 6 (UPI) — Joe Marquette, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer remembered for shooting an iconic photograph of the Redskins’ Joe Riggins during the 1984 Super Bowl, has died at the age of 79 following a lengthy illness.

A legend among his peers, Marquette, along with a group of Associated Press photographers, won a Pulitzer in 1999 in the category of feature photography for coverage of President Bill Clinton‘s impeachment. Numerous other awards included a first place for presidential coverage from the White House News Photographers Association in 1992 and a first place in sports in the 1981 World Press Photo contest for his photograph of Britain’s Sebastian Coe winning the gold medal at the Moscow Olympics in the 1500 meter race.

Over a five-decade career, moving from film to digital photography, Marquette, known to his photo colleagues as “Condor,” worked for UPI and several other major news organizations, including a move to Reuters in 1983 to establish its wire photo service in the United States as chief photographer in Washington, D.C. He spent a year as photo editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer and later, a decade as a photographer for AP in Washington before becoming bureau manager for the European Press Agency.

“He was pretty much of a legend in the photography world,” said Pat Benic, director of photography for UPI. “He got the name ‘Rocky Mountain Condor’ because he was based in Denver ” for much of the time he worked for UPI. “We all called him the Condor.”

Marquette was the kind of photographer who could shoot any assignment at any time and “always got the job done,” Benic said. He also was quick to share his knowledge with some of those who became the best in the business, working for Reuters, Getty Images and AP, he said.

The photographer is remembered also for a shot of President George H.W. Bush in Honolulu with his head barely above water as he swam at the beach. Marquette had brought along his underwater camera for just such an opportunity. That photograph ran prominently in LIFE Magazine as a metaphor at a time when the president was in some political hot water, according to his obituary.

Marquette was assigned to the White House during the Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations and traveled with them throughout the country and around the world for superpower summits, family vacations and major events.

He once delivered an attractive photograph of Raisa Gorbachev, wife of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, and later was invited to the Russian embassy, where he received a traditional lacquered Russian box as a thank you.

Marquette’s close-up photo of First Lady Barbara Bush with her eyes crossed, on the other hand, brought him a scolding.

Born in Indianapolis, Ind., Joseph Chartrand Marquette quickly became smitten with photography when, as a child, his parents, Eugene and Loretta Marquette, gave him a Brownie camera. He joined UPI, where he served in Minneapolis and Denver, where he spent 20 years, eventually becoming western bureau manager.

Marquette is survived by his partner, Kim Hewitt, of Tulsa, OK, his son, Christopher M. Marquette of Cos Cob, CT and his son Anthony Marquette and daughter-in-law Debbie Erickson-Marquette and a grandson, also named Anthony Marqutte, all of Colorado. He is also survived by his brother, Eugene Marquette of Cookeville,Tennessee.


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