SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) – Walt Zeboski, who chronicled Ronald Reagan’s 1980 presidential campaign and a succession of California governors as a photographer for The Associated Press, has died. He was 83.
Zeboski died Monday at his home in Sacramento after battling pneumonia. His death was confirmed Tuesday to the AP by his wife, Virginia Zeboski.
She said the family brought her husband home Friday from Mercy General Hospital in Sacramento and provided hospice care for him over the weekend.
Colleagues remembered Zeboski for his journalistic integrity and dedication to the wire service.
“He had a newsman’s instinct,” said Sacramento-based AP photographer Rich Pedroncelli, who described Zeboski as a mentor. “He knew where to be when he needed to be there.”
Company records show Zeboski was hired as a permanent AP employee in 1966 and that his photography career spanned more than three decades, mainly in Sacramento. He covered four California governors, including Pat Brown, Ronald Reagan, Jerry Brown and George Deukmejian, as well as countless political power players in the state Legislature.
In 1980, he covered all aspects of Reagan’s life on the presidential campaign trail, including a stop in Philadelphia for a fundraiser for then-U.S. Senate candidate Arlen Specter. Zeboski also captured quiet moments of Reagan and his wife, Nancy, on horseback at their ranch north of Santa Barbara and aboard a campaign plane.
He served as photo editor when colleague Slava “Sal” Veder snapped an image of POWs arriving at Travis Air Force Base from Vietnam as part of “Operation Homecoming” in 1973. The image of a beaming young woman, arms widespread, greeting her father won the Pulitzer Prize.
“I think he was just a consummate photographer, one of the best I’ve ever seen,” said former AP reporter Steve Lawrence, who recalled how Zeboski’s dedication often meant rushing back to the office to develop film.
The photographer also snapped iconic images of the era, including labor leader Cesar Chavez, armed members of the Black Panther Party, U.S. Sen. George McGovern, who lost to President Richard Nixon in 1972 in a historic electoral landslide, and Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, the infamous Charles Manson disciple who tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford during a stop in Sacramento.
Zeboski captured Fromme sitting in a U.S. Marshal’s vehicle as she returned to jail in 1975, an image that continues to get frequent use.
He also captured Queen Elizabeth II’s 1983 visit to Yosemite National Park and the first disabled climber to scale El Capitan.
Virginia Zeboski, 90, said her husband often risked his own safety to get the shot.
“He didn’t complain. He just did what he was told to do,” she said. “One time they had him flying upside down in a helicopter taking pictures of the Yosemite Valley, and that was scary.”
The couple met in Indiana, where he began his AP career as a wire photo operator. The AP bureau was in the offices of The Indianapolis Star, where the two sat across from each other, separated by a glass wall.
They celebrated their 60th anniversary this year.
In addition to his wife, Zeboski is survived by his son, Jan, and seven grandchildren. The family planned a celebration Saturday at their home.
(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)
- Celebrating Fourth of July is much cooler in these AZ towns
- Top ten road trip bathrooms in America
- Six things causing a pain in your neck
- 5 things to make your summer move easier
- Three elements of a strong timeshare exit guarantee
- Stretches and exercises for carpal tunnel syndrome
- The best Major League ballparks have their own personality
- Comparing the best regular seasons: The '96 Bulls and '16 Warriors
- 3 Arizona road trips and the vehicles to get you there
- Colon cancer is preventable. Check these signs and symptoms to stay healthy.
- 6 of the biggest skin cancer myths
- Affordable small home makeover ideas
- Locals helping locals: 6 success stories you need to know about
- Sunscreen facts that could save your life
- 6 energy saving hacks for your home
- 5 tips for choosing a company to end your timeshare
- Overlooked water tips to save you money
- 5 of the most adored gentlemen in professional sports today
- The real danger of sitting at your desk
- Most surprising NBA playoff performances of the last 40 years
- 11 classic baseball movies you must see again
- Finally getting rid of fat: 3 methods that actually work
- 4 reasons cancer survivors should focus on food
- 5 spring cleaning spots everyone forgets
- 5 reasons to look forward to watching the D-backs this season
- Common virus attributed to spike in head and neck cancers
- 5 signs it’s time to end your timeshare ownership
- 3 most overlooked ways to keep your home healthy
- 6 ways the air in your home could be making you sick
- CrossFit dangers: 5 common injuries and how to deal with them