Remembering Bernie Boston

Bernie Boston, Photographer, came from Ohio, worked as photographer and Director of Photography for the Washington Star and later the LA Times.  Noted WHNPA member, covered who knows how many presidents. (Photograph by Stephen R. Brown)
Bernie Boston, Photographer, came from Ohio, worked as photographer and Director of Photography for the Washington Star and later the LA Times. Noted WHNPA member, covered who knows how many presidents. (Photograph by Stephen R. Brown)

It is with great sadness that we inform you of you of the passing of yet another a longtime colleague and friend, Bernie Boston. Boston, a nationally acclaimed photojournalist with an unerring eye for the telling image, died Tuesday Jan. 22, 2008, at his home in Basye, Va., after a hard fought battle against Amyloidoisis, a blood infection. He was 74. His 1967 photo “Flower Power”, a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize, was perhaps the most iconic photo of the turbulent 60s.

Arrangements are pending. Please monitor this page for additional information.

As a photographer for the Dayton Daily News, the Washington Star, and The Los Angeles Times, Boston covered every president from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton, beginning his career as a teenager.

“Flower Power” shows a young man placing flowers in the gun barrels of soldiers at an anti-war demonstration on Oct. 22, 1967. Among other honors, “Flower Power” was named number 30 on a list of the 100 greatest war photos of all time.

Born in 1933 in Washington, to the late Dick and Norrine Boston, Bernie grew up in McLean, Va., on land the family owned for several generations. In high school he was a photographer for his school newspaper and yearbook.

After graduating from RIT in 1955, he studied at the School of Aviation Medicine in the Air Force and then served time in the Army, spending two years in Germany as a radiologist in the neurosurgical unit. He was discharged in 1958 and moved back to Washington to work as an assistant manager at Custom Craft Color Service.

In 1963, he left Washington to take a job at the Dayton Daily News in Dayton, Ohio, only to return three years later to work at the Washington Star. After two years with the Star he became the Director of Photography, a position he held until the paper folded in 1981. He was hired by the Washington bureau of the Los Angeles Times to establish a photo operation in the nation’s capitol. Bernie recalled that most of the time he had to figure out what the top news of the day was going to be and remembered it as a fascinating and challenging time where he felt like his own editor.

His colleagues, including White House News Photographers president Dennis Brack, remembers how much Bernie enjoyed being a photographer because of the access he got to modern day history. “His trademark cowboy hat and humor were legendary. Washington has lost another true gentleman.”

In 1991 he was presented with the White House News Photographers Association Lifetime Achievement Award for service to his profession and the industry. He received the National Press Photographers Association Joseph A. Sprague Memorial Award in 1993 – NPPA’s highest honor in the field of photojournalism – given to an individual who advances, elevates or attains unusual recognition for his profession. In 1996 Boston was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Sigma Delta Chi, The Society of Professional Journalists.

Flower Power, 1967.  (Photo by Bernie Boston/The Washington Evening Star)
Flower Power, 1967. (Photo by Bernie Boston/The Washington Evening Star)

In his career as a photojournalist, Boston won dozens of awards from the White House News Photographers Association, the National Press Photographers Association, Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild and Ohio Press Photographers Association.

His work has been published in many books including “The Best of Life”, “Life: The First Fifty Years”, “150 Years of Photojournalism”, “Life’s Classic Moments”, and a variety of textbooks on government and photography. Boston taught a photojournalism class at Northern Virginia Community College, and photojournalism class at Rochester Institute of Technology during the 1990 spring quarter. He also taught a summer course in color photojournalism at RIT for seven years; served on the faculty of many seminars; was a member of the National Press Photographers Flying Short Course; and frequently judged national, state and local photography contests including the Leica Medal of Excellence. Boston was the subject of four television news feature stories and was featured in Nikon’s Masters of Photojournalism video.

Boston served four terms as the White House News Photographers Association president. He was vice president eight times, dinner chairman three times, and on the executive board from 1973 to 1995 and was a Life Member. He served as chairman of the National Press Photographers Freedom of Information Committee, and served as President of NPPA’s Washington Chapter (now inactive).

In the fall of 2006 his alma mater, the Rochester Institute of Technology published “Bernie Boston, American Photojournalist,” collection of his photos documenting nearly 40 years of contemporary history. In conjunction with the book a reception and exhibition celebrating Bernie’s work was held at RIT.

Publisher of the Bryce Mountain Courier, Boston moved to Basye with his wife Peggy in 1994. He took great joy in chronicling the people and scenes of the Shenandoah Valley with his artist’s eye and most recently a digital camera. Active in the local community, Bernie was a past president of the Shenandoah Valley Music Festival, and the Basye-Orkney Springs Lions Club.

Bernie is survived by his wife of 37 years, Peggy Boston, of Basye, an aunt, many cousins and countless friends.


To the friends of Bernie Boston, who died at his home in Basye, VA on
January 22 from complications of a rare blood disorder, Amyloidosis,
diagnosed in 2006:

Please forgive the informality of this note, but I wanted to get this
message out as soon as possible for those who are interested in or able to
attend a gathering of friends to remember Bernie. I have had the chance to
talk to many of you personally, and look forward to reaching many more in
the days ahead. In the meantime, here are the plans (casual, please). We
have two dates at two locations in order to make it convenient for our
far-flung friends to drop by one or the other. They are:

–SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23 from 1 to 4 pm at the studio of Dennis Brack, 318
Third Street, NE, Rear; Washington, DC. There will be a brief ceremony at
2:30 pm.

–SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24 from 1 to 4 pm at the Fort Valley Nursery, 1175 S.
Hisey Avenue, Woodstock, VA with a brief ceremony at 2:30 pm.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Bernie Boston Photo Archives Fund
written to Rochester Institute of Technology (BBPAF in memo) and mailed to:

Heather Engel, Rochester Institute of Technology, Office of Development,
1 Lomb Memorial Drive, Rochester, NY 14623-9932.

Please forward this information to anyone you feel would be interested. I am
sure there may be many people I have missed.

If you have any questions or would just like to be in touch, e-mail to
peggyb [at]

With great affection and appreciation of your friendship with Bernie,