Skip Navigation

November-December 2016

Print
Email
ResizeResize Text: Original Large XLarge

In Memoriam: Frederick N. Ward (1935–2016)

The Indiana Jones of photojournalism, Frederick N. Ward adventured far and wide, writing and photographing in all parts of the world. Notable were his Life Magazine covers on the Martin Luther King memorial issue and the Kennedy assassination issue—Andy Warhol turned the latter into an iconic print of Jacqueline Kennedy. Fred contributed to Time, Life, Newsweek, and National Geographic, among many other magazines that published his prolific work. When his family moved to Miami in 1948, they transported the Huntsville, Alabama, naïve country boy to the open blue sea and skies of the world. He excelled at Coral Gables High School, where he was voted the one “Most Likely to Succeed.” The debate team teacher mentored Fred's start in photography by lending him a two-shot camera and giving him the key to his home darkroom. After a day of waiting for the perfect shot and waking to find it in the school paper, he was hooked.

At the University of Florida, Fred studied photography the first semester and taught it the second. Painstakingly building his career, he worked his way through college by photographing for the newspaper, magazine, and yearbook. Basic to his enterprising nature and hunger for success, he earned a bachelor's in political science and Far East history and a master's in journalism and communications. In 1984 the University of Florida named him a “Distinguished Alumnus of the College of Journalism and Communications.” And in 1985, he received the additional high honor of “Distinguished Alumnus of the University of Florida.”

Fred freelanced as a photojournalist in Washington, D.C., dedicating himself to telling a dramatic story and revealing the truth. He served as a member of the Washington Press Corps and the White House News Photographers Association. His photographs won first prizes in the annual White House News Photographers Association and University of Missouri contests—including historic images of President Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., and Gerald Ford—and reside in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Library of Congress, as well as in space, on the photographs aboard the Voyager spacecraft. His presidential photographs were exhibited by the International Center of Photography in New York, and a retrospective show of his work was the premier exhibit in the Washington Press Club. Fred was named by the Florida Scholastic Press Association as the “Outstanding Journalist of the Year, 1980.”

While creating “The Incredible Crystal: Diamonds,” for National Geographic, January 1979, Fred Ward spent an “Open Sesame” all-nighter in the Smithsonian Institution's Gem Hall to photograph the storied treasures outside their secured cases. Delighted, he displays the Spanish Inquisition Necklace and wears the Hope Diamond.

While creating “The Incredible Crystal: Diamonds,” for National Geographic, January 1979, Fred Ward spent an “Open Sesame” all-nighter in the Smithsonian Institution's Gem Hall to photograph the storied treasures outside their secured cases. Delighted, he displays the Spanish Inquisition Necklace and wears the Hope Diamond.

Honing a rare facility to combine words and pictures, Fred wrote and photographed Golden Islands of the Caribbean (Crown Publishers, 1972) and Inside Cuba Today (Crown Publishers, 1978). He also photographed The Home Birth Book (Doubleday, 1977), with text by Charlotte Ward; and Portrait of a President (Harper and Row, 1975), with text by Hugh Sidey, an intimate coverage of President Ford during three months in the White House.

If the adventure makes the man, Fred sought challenges that many merely read about, and he involved his audiences in the action. Extensive travel for National Geographic for more than twenty-eight years led him through more than 130 countries, piloting experimental aircraft and his own helicopter, and diving underwater, all in search of the perfect picture and the most accurate and interesting story. He wrote and photographed “Rubies and Sapphires,” “Emeralds,” “Florida Reefs,” “Computer Graphics,” “Everglades,” “Diamonds,” “Cuba,” “Tibet,” “Cree Indians,” “Dominica,” “Pearls,” and “Jade.” He photographed “Fiber Optics,” “Silver,” “Pesticides,” “Hazardous Wastes,” “Rhode Island,” and “Japan.”

Fred developed his gemstone series for National Geographic into nine books under his own imprint, Gem Book Publishers: Diamonds (also in Russian), Emeralds, Jade, Opals, Pearls, Phenomenal Gems, Rubies and Sapphires, and Gem Care. Morphing into a gem dealer and a gemologist and a proud president and board member of DCGIA, Fred earned a GIA Graduate Gemologist diploma in 1990 in the shortest time ever recorded, ninety days. Along the way, he produced and directed two National Endowment for the Humanities films on Mexico and various television commercials and corporate documentaries and served as a special gem consultant for National Geographic television.

Fred is survived by his wife of fifty-eight years, Charlotte; their beloved children, Kimberly Litle (Tom Litle), Christopher Ward, Lolly Ward (Nathan Kornelis), and David Ward; four grandchildren; and his sister, Lynn Erckmann (Jim Erckmann). Fred died at his Malibu home on 19 July, three days after his eighty-first birthday.

For forty years, Fred worked alongside his Black Star Picture Agency colleague and friend, photographer Dennis Brack, who commented recently: “So many of his great stories to remember. Fred was the smartest photographer in Washington. There have been other smart photographers since he went west, but they have excelled in only one field—Fred had it all together.”

Charlotte Ward, Fred's wife of fifty-eight years, edited or coauthored his books.       

In this Issue

Taylor & Francis Group

© 2017 Taylor & Francis Group · 530 Walnut Street, Suite 850, Philadelphia, PA · 19106