Globe-trotting AP photographer John Gaps III dies, age 63

Award-winning former Associated Press photographer John Gaps III, who documented the entirety from battle zones to the NCAA College World Series throughout his profession, used to be discovered lifeless at his house in Des Moines, Iowa, his circle of relatives showed Tuesday. He used to be 63.

Gaps used to be discovered by way of police in his house Monday when his son, Ethan Gaps, asked a welfare test after now not listening to from his father for a number of days.

Gaps mentioned it used to be the hazards he took to get a singular shot — extra so than his images talents — that make his pictures stand out.

“It’s interesting, because then you become aware of the fact that the work you did is going to outlive you. And that’s something,” he mentioned.

Gaps’ profession started whilst he used to be nonetheless attending Iowa State University, the place he used to be a photographer for the Iowa State Daily. He used to be employed by way of the Omaha World-Herald within the early Nineteen Eighties prior to becoming a member of the AP in 1985. While Gaps used to be based totally in Iowa, the AP despatched him to hide conflicts and occasions world wide, together with the autumn of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the funeral of Princess Diana in 1997.

In 1994, he used to be shot within the leg by way of an Israeli officer whilst masking boulevard demonstrations within the Gaza Strip.

“I was photographing the scene when I noticed a soldier near the gate to the army base about 100 yards away from me. He was down on one knee, in a shooting position. He had a scope on his rifle and he was tracking me,” Gaps mentioned on the time.

The soldier fired a .22-caliber plastic sniper spherical that lodged in Gaps’ thigh. It used to be got rid of by way of medical doctors at Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City prior to he used to be flown again to the U.S. The Israeli Army later decided the soldier violated orders when he shot Gaps.

“John was a huge figure in the photo department. To say he was a big personality who could make a big picture is an understatement,” AP director of images J. David Ake mentioned. “He had a big heart to go with those big pictures he made while traveling the globe for the AP.”

Gaps recalled photographing Princess Diana’s funeral, in an interview with Des Moines tv station WHO 13. He recounted discovering a top spot clear of different photographers to hide the procession.

Seeing his paintings in print used to be nonetheless a thrill, even within the final weeks of his lifestyles, his son Ethan mentioned.

“I was at a gas station on Sept. 15 when I spotted a USA Today article featuring 40 years of iconic moments in history, and a couple of his photos were there,” he mentioned. “So I got a copy and showed it to him. He thought that was really cool.”

Dave Tomlin, a former AP Kansas City bureau leader who employed Gaps, recalled the time Gaps used to be despatched to Germany to hide the cave in of the Berlin Wall. Tomlin by way of then used to be operating at AP’s headquarters in New York when he gained what gave the look to be a field of rocks from Gaps. In a be aware, Gaps defined the rocks had been fragments of the wall and gave directions for Tomlin to stay one for himself and “take one down the hall to the president’s office.”

“I just had to marvel at the brilliant politics of that maneuver,” Tomlin said. “I never would have thought to do that if I’d been in his shoes. So I did exactly as he asked.”

Gaps left the AP in 2000 to transform senior photographer on the Des Moines Register, the place he labored till 2011.

Cliff Schiappa, AP’s former Midwest regional photograph editor, mentioned he first met Gaps again in 1982 and remembers Gaps as a skilled and competitive sports activities and information photographer who knew the way to get a just right image.

“He was fast on his feet. He was smart. He could read a situation as it was unfolding and know where to be with his camera,” Schiappa mentioned. “Those are good qualities whether you’re shooting a war or a football game.“

Gaps also had empathy for the people whose images he captured, which helped him connect with his subjects, Schiappa said.

“I think he got professional fulfillment from going to war,” he mentioned.

AP photographer Scott Applewhite, who describes his friendship with Gaps as that of “army buddies,” said they would often share their experiences in places like Somalia, the Balkans and Haiti.

“We covered the Persian Gulf War and met up in Kuwait City on liberation day,” Applewhite mentioned Tuesday. “We spoke to each other about such things, I suppose, because nobody else would understand.”

The executive editor of the Des Moines Register, Carol Hunter, said Gap loved what he did.

“The truth is that he relished seeking out and telling stories, period, whether big or small, whether with his camera or through text or later video,” Hunter said.

Retirement was hard for Gaps, Applewhite said.

“I was one of the few comrades who truly knew his bravery, his bravado, his tears,” he said. “I recently told John that he was an exclamation point in a world full of commas. He liked that.”

Gaps was also known for his writing. He produced columns for newspapers throughout his career, and he published a book in 1997 of his own poetry and photos titled “God Left Us Alone Here: A Book of War,” that takes a poignant take a look at his encounters with battle and struggle from world wide.

He is survived by way of his 4 youngsters, John Henry Gaps, Sarah Bonsall, and Ethan Gaps, all of Des Moines, and Emilia Gaps, of Ankeny, in addition to six grandchildren.


Associated Press reporter Josh Funk contributed to this record from Omaha, Nebraska.

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