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Joe Kennedy

Khai Le

On January 1, 2019, Joe Kennedy passed peacefully in his sleep, one week shy of his 81st birthday.

Joe Kennedy Mug Shot.jpg

Joe was a staff photographer for the Los Angeles Times for more than 40 years. He was also a PPAGLA member for over 40 years, serving as secretary in 1972. Additionally, Joe was a past president of National Press Photographers Association.

Joe saw it all at the Los Angeles Times. His dispatch call sign was CAR 4 but he preferred his nickname, TUNA. He was responsible for photographing many great events and the notable people throughout the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s. He covered the LA Riots, JFK and Bobby Kennedy, a slew of Presidents from Kennedy to Reagan, and Sunday Dodger games—hangin’ with Lasorda, Garvey, Yeager, enjoying Fernando Mania.

The Kennedy home was a museum of daily news events. Every wall had a picture on it…none greater than his picture of Kirk Gibson hitting the World Series game winner for the Dodgers. It was his most famous picture that lives to this day in Dodger History.

His son Greg said, “He was a great dad and lived a great life. He did some amazing things and met some amazing people along the way. My dad always did it his way until the very end, with his dogs right by his side.”

Outside of family and work, Joe had a love for the outdoors. He spent several summers as a Camp Director for the Boy Scouts of America at Camp Oljato and at Camp Radford for the 4H Club. He loved snow skiing at Mammoth Mountain and Big Bear, as well as spending time with his beautiful Aussie dogs.

After retirement, Joe continued to stay busy. He was an usher at the Anaheim Angel’s Stadium where he was assigned to the Diamond Club.

Joe mentored many young photographers, giving them their “early break” just las he was given early in his career. Joe was humble…he never wanted to be the news, he wanted to cover the news. 

He gave out some great nicknames. Lori Shepler became Ms. Clear. Tammy Lechner was Pooh. Tom Kelsey was 10-speed. Reed Saxon was Reedorootor. John Barr was The Candy Man. Marsha Gorman was Mush. Genaro Molina became The Doctor of Light. Rob Gauthier’s handle was Robster, and Jayne Kamin Oncea was Kaminsky.

According to fellow staffer LA Times staffer Rick Meyer, Joe had some quirks. For example, when Joe lived in Whittier, he would paint one-quarter of the exterior of the house every year. That way the house always looked good with a low work load. Joe never met an expense report that he couldn’t massage in his favor. A three-dollar lunch became a $25 meal receipt almost like magic. Joe loved to work the assignment desk on holidays when the pay was double time and a half. He was also a great multitasker running the Boy Scout and 4H camps while on company time. While on the road, Joe knew who to bribe, and for how much. 

With the LA Times radio system, the proper way to end a radio transmission was to say “KRJ233.” Joe always ended the radio calls with “KRUD AM and FM.”

He is survived by his son Greg and dozens of photogs that he worked with over the decades. The following photogs attended Joe’s funeral mass:Wayne Kelly, Jim Caccavo, Larry Gus, Axel Koester, Hyungwon Kang, Rosemary Kaul, Bonnie Burrow, Keith Birmingham, Alex Galardo, Bob Lachman, Mark Boster, Don Kelsen, Raleigh Souther, Scott Harrison, Bob Chamberlin, Iris Schneider, Reed Saxon, Lori Shepler, Mel Melcon, Jayne Kamin Oncea and Rick Meyer.