Thursday, September 2, 2010

Lawrence V. Smith, prominent photojournalist, dies at 78

Lawrence V. Smith, prominent photojournalist, dies at 78

He traveled with Fidel Castro and worked on "Wild Kingdom."
Florida Times Union
Posted: September 1, 2010 - 5:50pm
By Jessie-Lynne Kerr

Lawrence V. "Larry" Smith, an Emmy Award-winning photographer who spent his career pursuing adventure with a camera, died Monday of congestive heart failure in a local nursing home. He was 78 and had called Jacksonville home since 1959.

The family will receive visitors from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at Corey-Kerlin Funeral Home, 940 Cesery Blvd. There will be a graveside service at 11 a.m. Saturday in Greenlawn Cemetery.

A native of Chicago, Mr. Smith received a degree in chemistry from Iowa State University and was working on his Ph.D. in biochemistry when he was drafted into the Army in 1954. He served as a guided missile expert.

In 1958-59, he worked as a cameraman in Cuba for CBS-TV during Fidel Castro's revolution.

In a 1974 interview with The Times-Union, Mr. Smith said some of his most memorable experiences came when he was assigned by CBS to travel with Castro during his campaign to overthrow the regime of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista.

He said he and his colleagues developed excellent rapport with Castro while filming the exploits of his ragtag band of followers.

"Castro had almost nothing, no decent weapons. Batista had everything, including a professional army. Yet Batista finally loaded an airplane with gold and flew out of the country," Mr. Smith said.

Smith's Cuba work earned him an Emmy.

Mr. Smith moved to Jacksonville to become director of photography at the Russell-Barton Film Co., but continued to take varied assignments through the years that sent him all over the world.

He served as director of photography for "Wild Kingdom" from 1960 to 1967 and traveled from the Arctic Circle to South America to film animals in their native habitat, earning another Emmy.

He served as a cameraman/correspondent for ABC-TV during the early stages of the Vietnam War in 1965, where he flew on dive-bomber missions, earning another Emmy.

Mr. Smith also lived as an aquanaut for two weeks in a capsule 55 feet under the Caribbean Sea off St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands for the Tektite II project.

Over the years, Mr. Smith had several independent film companies in Jacksonville and most recently specialized in transportation photography. Building a library of more than 600,000 images, he also served as the official JaxPort photographer for several years.

The Carpenter Library at the University of North Florida is currently featuring some of his works in an exhibit in its Special Collections through Oct. 15.

Mr. Smith helped form and served as the first president of the Jacksonville Motion Picture and Television Council.

He is survived by his wife of 35 years, Linda Lockwood Smith; two daughters, Julie Smith of Austin, Texas, and Valerie Nakamura of Colorado Springs, Colo.; a grandson; and a brother, Karl Smith of Pensacola.

The family suggests memorial contributions to the Jacksonville Humane Society, 8464 Beach Blvd., Jacksonville FL 32216., (904) 359-4374

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