Friday, January 25, 2008

Bernie Boston, a nationally acclaimed photojournalist, died Jan. 22 at his home in Basye, Va., after a long battle with amyloidosis, a rare blood disease. He was 74.

Mr. Boston’s signature photo “Flower Power” was a runner-up for the Pulitzer Prize. The image shows a young man placing flowers in the gun barrels of soldiers at an anti-war demonstration in the District in 1967.

Mr. Boston moved to Basye with his wife, Peggy, in 1994. There, he was publisher of the Bryce Mountain Courier.

In the fall of 2006, his alma mater the Rochester Institute of Technology published “Bernie Boston, American Photojournalist,” a book covering nearly 40 years of Mr. Boston’s work.

A photographer since his teenage years, he worked for the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, the Washington Star and the Los Angeles Times. He covered every president from Harry Truman to Bill Clinton.

A major portion of his work chronicled the turbulent 1960s. Among several honors, “Flower Power” was named No. 30 on a list of the 100 greatest war photos of all times.

In an interview a few years back on a public radio station, Bob Brown, a senior photographer at the Richmond Times-Dispatch, said of the photo, “In that one moment in time, he captured both sides of the argument. God knows how many photographers were covering that event, but Bernie just summed up the whole event and the whole era in that one push of the button.”

Born in 1933 in the District, Mr. Boston grew up in McLean. In high school he was a photographer for his school newspaper and yearbook.

After graduating from RIT in 1955, he studied at the Air Force’s School of Aviation Medicine 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 the District to work as an assistant manager at Custom Craft Color Service.

In 1963, he took a job at the Dayton Daily News, 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 then hired by the Washington bureau of the Los Angeles Times to establish a photo operation in the District.

In 1993, Mr. Boston received the National Press Photographers Association’s Joseph A. Sprague Memorial Award, the group’s highest honor in photojournalism.

Other honors during his career included awards from the White House News Photographers Association, the National Press Photographers Association, Washington-Baltimore Newspaper Guild and Ohio Press Photographers Association. He placed second for the Pulitzer Prize in 1968 and 1987.

In 1996 Mr. Boston was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Sigma Delta Chi, the Society of Professional Journalists.

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.

Mr. Boston served four terms as the White House News Photographers Association president and was made a life member.

He is survived by his wife of 37 years, Peggy Boston of Basye.

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