Lowell Georgia, a former Denver Post photographer who covered the inauguration and funeral of President John F. Kennedy, as well as the South Platte River Flood in 1965, among other news assignments, died Wednesday at Good Samaritan Hospital in Lafayette. He was 87.
In 1963, Georgia was named the National Press Photographers Association photographer of the year. Over the course of his career, which included assignments for National Geographic magazine and the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Georgia photographed President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Green Bay Packers Coach Vince Lombardi and quarterback Bart Starr, and comedian George Burns, among other notables. Georgia covered the University of Denver hockey team for the Post.
“Lowell and I shared a dark room together,” said former Post photographer Duane Howell, who started at the newspaper in 1961. “We use to soup our own film and make our own prints. It was all black and white. I thought of myself as a pretty good photographer, but Lowell taught me a lot.”
Howell, a longtime friend and colleague, described Georgia as a “hard working” photojournalist who “got along with everyone” and who was known to “crack a joke.
“He was always serious about the work,” Howell recalled. “I remember what a fine person he was.” The two photographers exchanged Christmas cards over the decades.
Born on March 19, 1933, in Green Bay, Wis., Georgia earned a bachelor’s degree in English from St. Norbert College in De Pere, Wis. He worked at the Press-Gazette from 1949 until 1960. He was a photographer at The Denver Post from 1960 to 1967. Georgia was a “picture editor” with the National Geographic Society from 1967 to 1968. He was named the Wisconsin Press Photographer of the Year in 1959 and was awarded the Inland Newspaper Association Trophy in 1960.
On Oct. 27, 1956, Georgia married Mary Kay Donovan in Green Bay. They had met at the Press-Gazette and attended college together. The family moved to Colorado in November 1960 in a blizzard and settled in Arvada. They raised six children there.
The family lived in the Washington, D.C., area while Georgia worked for National Geographic. They returned to their long-time Arvada home, and Georgia worked as a freelance photographer, including assignments for National Geographic. Georgia co-founded Oil and Gas Investor Magazine, with Don Hart, in the 1980s.
During the summer, when Georgia shot for National Geographic, he took turns taking each child, solo, on an assignment, recalled Anne Hanson, a daughter.
Whether it was the Canadian wilderness, Montana or Idaho, “we each got our own little individual time,” Hanson said.
When not traveling on assignments, Georgia took great measures to attend his children’s pursuits, including sporting events, band and choir, Hanson said.
One time, darting off on a traveling assignment, Georgia was hustling to make a flight. He parked a Denver Post vehicle curbside at the old Stapleton Airport, grabbed his gear and bag and raced into the terminal. In his haste, Georgia left the vehicle running and a door open, Hanson said with a laugh. When he returned to Denver the vehicle was littered with parking citations, she said.
Georgia drove the family around the metro area in a station wagon. “With six kids, it was always a circus,” Hanson said. “He’d pump the brakes and say, ‘Uh-oh, car trouble,’ and then pull over and turn into a Dairy Queen.
“His sense of humor was phenomenal,” she said.
He is survived by his wife, Mary Kay; two sons, Stephen of Thornton and Thomas of Arvada; four daughters, Theresa of Berthoud, Susie Webber of Oregon, Karen Surbrugg of Berthoud and Anne Hanson of Westminster; grandchildren; and great grandchildren.
The family plans to have a celebration of his life in the summer. Memorial contributions may be made to Haven of Hope/A Shelter for the Homeless of Denver, or to the Shrine of St. Anne Catholic Church in Arvada. Georgia will be interred at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Wheat Ridge.
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