Remembering Bob Gilka (1916-2013)

Bob Gilka

Bob Gilka in 2007

From the National Press Photographers Association:

ARLINGTON, VA (June 25, 2013) – Robert E. Gilka, a newspaper photographer and editor who was a mentor to legions of photographers and who was the director of photography for National Geographic Magazine for more than 27 years, died today.

Gilka was 96 and in hospice care in Arlington, VA, photojournalist Bruce Dale said, and he was battling with his third round of pneumonia this year when he peacefully passed at 4:40 a.m.

“Bob was a father figure to me, and to many of us who may not have had a father,” Dale told News Photographer magazine today. “He dressed us down when we needed it, but he always stuck up for his staff. There was nothing he wouldn’t do to defend his photographers.”

“The halls and offices of National Geographic are buzzing with Bob Gilka stories,” Chris Johns told News Photographer magazine today. Johns, who was only 28 when he was named the Newspaper Photographer of the Year, and who only three weeks ago was promoted to Geographic’s editor in chief and executive vice president, probably knew Gilka as well as anyone over the decades.

“There is laughter and there are tears because Bob touched so many lives in remarkable ways. He was an honest, direct, no-nonsense gentleman we never wanted to disappoint. He didn’t gush and go on and on about our work, but we knew he cared deeply about us and believed in the work we were doing. He encouraged us, set standards of excellence and instilled in us the desire to become better photographers and editors. And, most importantly, he inspired us to grow in all aspects of our lives. Bob made me want to become a better son, husband, father, colleague and friend. I speak for many when I say how truly grateful we are to have known Bob and worked for him.” …

Read more here.

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≡ photo by Bruce Dale via Wikimedia Commons

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