WASHINGTON — Joe Marquette, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer who covered Olympics, Super Bowls and the White House during a five-decade career, has died at his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma, after a series of lengthy illnesses. He was 79.
Marquette was a large man with an outsized personality and someone fellow photographers sometimes referred to as “Condor,” the White House News Photographers Association said in announcing his death.
Marquette spent a decade with The Associated Press and also worked for several other news organizations, including UPI, Reuters and The Philadelphia Inquirer.
In 1999, along with a team of other AP photographers, he won a Pulitzer in the category of feature photography for coverage of the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.
Marquette’s career gave him a front seat to some of the most important events of the 20th and 21st centuries. He initially covered sports but eventually moved to politics.
Space launches, the Olympics and Super Bowl games were among his specialties. His 1984 Super Bowl picture of John Riggins scoring the winning touchdown for the Washington Redskins became a popular poster that hung in offices and restaurants all over the Washington area. His photo of Britain’s Sebastian Coe winning the gold medal in the 1,500-meter race at the Moscow Olympic Games won first place in sports in the World Press Photo contest.
Ron Edmonds, a retired Associated Press photographer who knew Marquette for almost 40 years as a colleague and as a competitor, described him as extremely well liked by his peers because he was “60 percent comedian in dealing with everyday life, but on top of that, he was one of the best photojournalists in the business.”
Edmonds said that before the age of cellphones and laptop computers, a large portion of a wire photographer’s job was just finding a way to transmit an image quickly. He said Marquette would plan way ahead on a story and arrange to use phone lines in people’s homes if need be, allowing him to send his photos while competitors were still scrambling.
“Joe was probably one of the best at getting pictures out of some of the worst places you can imagine,” Edmonds said.