Jack Kurtz ~ Class of 1975
Departed ~ 10/19/21
Jane Reed Wilson ‘74 wrote:
I just heard from a friend that Jack Kurtz has died. She knew he went to ISB and wanted to be sure friends from ISB knew about it. I did not know Jack personally and I am not sure when he was at ISB, may have been mid-70s. He was at Nairobi International School with my friend prior to Bangkok. (I was not in Nairobi, only Bangkok). I had posted about Jack’s struggle with cancer in the network FB page about a month ago.
He sounds like he made an incredible contribution to the world as a photojournalist. Below is a copy of my friend’s text to me. Kap kun ka, Jane Reed Wilson ‘74
From Laura Schlesinger Minor:
Here’s what Cathy Kurtz posted.
I’ll also share the Youth Journalism International tribute. Jack and Cathy lived in Bangkok for a number of years and Cathy taught there. I introduced Jack to Steve and Jackie who started YJI here in Bristol with a group of local youth (my daughter included). It has become an amazing international organization with hundreds of kids writing for them globally. Jack became an advisor and a judge for their annual contest.
From his wife Cathy Kurtz:
The end… John, better known as JACK Kurtz: May 21, 1957 to October 19, 2021
Photographers know that the perfect picture may take time to develop. Patience for the right moment. Things can’t be rushed. The last couple weeks have felt like that, with the nurses convinced he was ready to go and he was ready but the perfect time was still to come. I sit in the recliner next to his bed, in the dark, late at night, holding his hand, I image the perfect words to wrap up a life. They aren’t coming. I will only mention that in our 40 years of life together, he was the trailblazer and always went on to a new place first, set things up and I came and joined him. We did it in Fergus Falls, Florida, New York, El Paso, Phoenix and Bangkok. Now he is going on first and I will join him in a few years.
I will just throw together some thoughts. We met at college and travelled the world. It was a great ride. He would say that while he worked with many great reporters, words get too much play and you should let the photos tell the story so here are his websites. His photographer buddies will know that he did more than just “F8 and be there” he gave his all on every story or assignment.
Now, we could conclude with the famous AP -30- (journalists know this means the end) but it isn’t. His photos will continue to be marketed by ZUMA Press, his photo agency for the last 20+ years. One of Jack’s last acts was making arrangements for his ongoing royalties to be donated to help future international journalists. A firm believer in freedom of the press he will continue to support this with his royalties going to:
Reporters without Borders: www.RSF.org
If you are so inspired, feel free to support the future in his honor: https://donate.rsf.org/us/donate/~my-donation. Make sure you look for the English translation button in upper right, unless you prefer French!
Sidebar to Jack’s story: Every day, week, month and year, millions of men, women, daughters and sons, sit beside loved ones during their last days, hours and minutes as they transition to the next life. In that respect I am nothing special. I was honored to be by his side in life during adventure for 40+ years and it was privilege to be with him as he had made the transition to the next. Life goes on, just in a different format. Thank you all for your continued love and I will post about a “Celebration of Jack’s life” online and in person in the future.
We’ve lost a world class photojournalist and good friend
October 19, 2021 By Youth Journalism International
Photojournalist Jack Kurtz got his start in high school.
(Photo thanks to Laura Schlesinger Minor.)
With deep sadness, we learned today that a valued friend and supporter of Youth Journalism International, the acclaimed photojournalist Jack Kurtz, died today in Iowa at the age of 64 after a long fight with cancer.
Jack spent more than 40 years traveling the world in search of photographs that captured much more than just the news. They put humanity on display, from the Mexican border to Ground Zero to Thailand to the presidential campaigns in Iowa.
Jack didn’t settle for the ordinary, the humdrum. He always found ways to make photographs that reached deeper, creating art that will be his legacy forever. He did more than live through a turbulent, interesting time. He captured images that preserve what he saw so that untold numbers of people will see them, too, for generations to come. That’s his gift to all of us.
Jack came to YJI’s attention because he went to high school in Kenya with the mother of one of our early students and she connected us. A relationship blossomed because he shared YJI’s vision for young people entering journalism and embraced their zeal and idealism fully – because he’d never lost his.
Jack met up with one our students traveling through Thailand. He served as a judge in the YJI contest for years. He gave an online photography workshop for YJI during the coronavirus pandemic that had students riveted.
We’ll be showing a recording of that presentation to students for a long time to come. Jack supported and helped this little charity in many ways, large and small, and we are grateful.
A couple of years ago, YJI’s co-founders, Jackie Majerus and Steve Collins, met up with Jack and his wife Cathy Kurtz for the first time. In Des Moines, Iowa, we got a chance to have a meal, look around a little and hear firsthand about their remarkable life. We enjoyed every moment, not knowing we wouldn’t have another chance.
Our hearts go out to Cathy and to Jack’s many friends and families. There are so many us grieving today. The only salve is that we know Jack’s work will live on.
We urge you to take some time to explore the world through Jack’s incredible eye. Here are two of his photo collections:
Please send pictures (old and new), anecdotes, articles, stories and tributes to isbeings at gmail dot com