Former Palo Alto Times Chief Photographer Gene “Tup” Tupper

Former Palo Alto Times chief photographer Gene "Tup" Tupper died in April 2011 after a brief illness. He was 85.
Former Palo Alto Times chief photographer Gene "Tup" Tupper died in April 2011 after a brief illness. He was 85.

He worked at the Times from 1948 until his retirement in 1981. According to an 1981 article, "He was the newspaper employee best known by the public, and he photographed many celebrities including President Harry S. Truman, Eleanor Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Louis Armstrong, Ronald Reagan, Shirley Temple, Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, Nikita Khrushchev, Bob Hope, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Jane Mansfield, Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Willie Mays among others. He photographed the Beatles when they stayed in Palo Alto. He also cover many Bing Crosby Pebble Beach golf tournaments.

Former Palo Alto Times Tribune chief photographer Bob Andres recalled, "He's always had a coffee cup in his hand, always had a shirt and tie on, and was all business all the time. I was 'the kid' on the staff, and definitely had to prove himself, which I think I did. He went full gamut from 4x5 to 2-1/4 to 35mm. I remember looking at negatives of a car crash sequence he shot on 4x5 - he had the patient on the gurney coming at him and loaded into the ambulance like it was shot in 35mm with a motor, which is impressive."

Former Times photographer Joe Melena remember fondly, "He had a influence on me. He gave you an assignment and gave you free reign. He didn't tell you how to do em. He wore a suit and tie on assignments - that was the code back then. It could be 90 degree out, but you had to wear sport coat and tie."

Melena said Tupper shot award-winning photos of a plane crash after they collided near Moffett Field in Mountain View. Melena said, "He heard it on the police scanner. Back in those days you can go up there and take the picture you wanted with no police lines."gene1

After retirement he moved to Lodi, where he enjoyed golf, boating and trailer-travel trips with his wife and friends.

"He was a modest man who never took enough credit for his many accomplishments, including from the Army in defense of his fellow soldier and various awards for his photography," his daughter Linda said.

He was born in San Francisco in 1925 and raised in Palo Alto by his mother and grandparents. He attended Palo Alto High School, served in the U.S. Army during World War II, then studied photojournalism at San Jose State University. He started at the Times as a stringer in 1948 while he worked for a camera store.

He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Catherine Tupper of Lodi; daughter Linda Tupper Spalinger of Boulder Creek; and son Craig Tupper and his wife Wendy of Yamhill, Ore.

The family requests that memorial donations be made to a local hospice organization.

You can contact Tupper's family.
1041 Awani Dr
Lodi, CA 95240-0682

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