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: https://kurtzjack.photoshelter.com/archive and www.jackkurtzphotography.com/index.