Longtime Member Fred Ward Passes

Longtime WHNPA member Frederick N. Ward passed away on July 19, 2016 at the age of 81 at his home in Malibu, California. Former WHNPA President and longtime friend Dennis Brack shares the following sentiment:

Some great photographers are known for their timing, others for great eye, others still for their combat coverage. Fred Ward was a great photographer, but he was not known for any of these accolades. Fred Ward was just plain smart.

Fred Ward graduated from the University of Florida and then earned a MA in journalism and communications. Soon the credit of “Fred Ward/Black Star” became a familiar name to those few who took the time to find photo credits. In the fifties the credit was under the historic photos of Elvis Presley. Fred moved to Washington, DC and became NEWSWEEK’s go-to photographer even before the magazine based a staff photographer in Washington, DC. Fred made many of the iconic photographs of President John F. Kennedy. He also worked for LIFE magazine and his photograph of Jacqueline Kennedy, Caroline and John John at the North Portico of the White House was on the cover of LIFE for the Kennedy funeral issue. The NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, with Bob Gilka at the helm, was at the top of it’s game and the perfect place for Fred to tell his stories. Living in the Arctic with an eskimo tribe, and walking on snow shoes for three months, is an example of one of the many stories that took Fred to over 130 countries. His Geographic stories on gems changed his career path. He published a series of books on gems, became a gemologist and gem consultant for National Geographic Television.

Fred Ward was the smartest photographer that I have ever known. He could have pursued staff positions, but he wanted to keep the rights to his photographs and to do the projects that he wanted to do. He continued to work with Black Star, marketing his work and obtaining lucrative annual report work. Fred lived in the DC are with his wife Charlotte, to whom he was married for 58 years. When Fred retired, he moved to Malibu, California to be closer to his children, Kimberly, Lolly, Chris, and David.

Fred was constantly trying new technology. He was among the first to use the light AC strobes in his professional work. He consulted with Paul Swartz at Dynalite in their early days. He bought a helicopter and learned to fly. I admit it was a little nerve racking to watch him fly and take pictures at the same time. Fred was also one of the first photographers to embrace computers in photography. He tried to persuade Howard Chapnick to change the Black Star library to a computer system. It didn’t happen—unfortunately.

I will remember Fred as true friend who helped me a great deal over my life. He was always calm, always with a dry sense of humor, and he was always five steps ahead of all of us. I will miss Fred.