Iowa native, OWH alum, globe-trotting photographer John Gaps III, 63, dies

John Gaps III, an award-winning former Associated Press photographer who documented the whole lot from warfare zones to the NCAA College World Series, used to be discovered lifeless at his house in Iowa, his circle of relatives showed Tuesday. He used to be 63.

Obit John Gaps III

AP

This undated document photograph displays Associated Press photographer John Gaps III. The former award-winning Associated Press photographer, who documented the whole lot from warfare zones to the NCAA College World Series all over his profession, used to be discovered lifeless at his house Monday, Oct. 17, 2022, in Des Moines, Iowa, his circle of relatives showed Tuesday. He used to be 63. (AP Photo/File)

Gaps used to be discovered via police Monday within his house in Des Moines when his son, Ethan Gaps, asked a welfare test after no longer listening to from his father for a number of days. Ethan Gaps stated the reason for his father’s demise used to be no longer right away transparent.

John Gaps had stated it used to be the dangers he took getting a novel shot — extra so than his images abilities — 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 stated.

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 via the Omaha World-Herald within the early Nineteen Eighties ahead of becoming a member of the AP in 1985. While Gaps used to be primarily based 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 via an Israeli officer whilst protecting boulevard demonstrations within the Gaza Strip.

Obit John Gaps III

Adel Hana/AP

FILE – Associated Press photographer John Gaps III grimaces in ache as he’s helped via Palestinian males moments after he used to be shot within the knee with a plastic bullet whilst photographing clashes between Palestinian and Israeli infantrymen within the occupied Gaza Strip on March 7, 1994. The former award-winning Associated Press photographer, who documented the whole lot from warfare zones to the NCAA College World Series all over his profession, used to be discovered lifeless at his house Monday, Oct. 17, 2022, in Des Moines, Iowa, his circle of relatives showed Tuesday. He used to be 63. (AP Photo/Adel Hana, File)

“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 stated on the time.

The soldier fired a .22-caliber plastic sniper spherical that lodged in Gaps’ thigh. It used to be got rid of via docs at Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza City ahead of he used to be flown again to the U.S. The Israeli military 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 stated. “He had a big heart to go with those big pictures he made while traveling the globe for the AP.”

In an interview with Des Moines tv station WHO-13, Gaps recalled one example the place he driven himself to get a novel shot: discovering a prime position some distance clear of different photographers to hide Princess Diana’s funeral procession.

It nonetheless overjoyed him to peer his paintings in print, even within the closing weeks of his lifestyles, his son Ethan stated.

“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 stated. “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 via then used to be running at AP’s headquarters in New York when he won what gave the look to be a field of rocks from Gaps. In a notice, 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.”

Obit John Gaps III

JOHN GAPS III/AP

FILE – A person hammers away on the Berlin Wall on Nov. 12, 1989 because the border barrier between East and West Germany used to be torn down after 28 years, symbolically finishing the Cold War. Former award-winning Associated Press photographer John Gaps III, who documented the whole lot from warfare zones to the NCAA College World Series all over his profession, used to be discovered lifeless at his house Monday, Oct. 17, 2022, in Des Moines, Iowa, his circle of relatives showed Tuesday. He used to be 63. (AP Photo/John Gaps III)

“I simply needed to surprise on the good 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 become senior photographer at the Des Moines Register, where he worked until 2011.

Cliff Schiappa, AP’s former Midwest regional photo editor, said he first met Gaps back in 1982 and recalls him as a talented and aggressive sports and news photographer, one who knew how to get a good picture.

“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 said. “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 said.

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 said 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 Gaps 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 look at his encounters with war and conflict from around the world.

He is survived by his four children, John Henry Gaps, Sarah Bonsall, and Ethan Gaps, all of Des Moines, and Emilia Gaps, of Ankeny, as well as six grandchildren.

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