Harold A. "Buck" Joseph had a front-row seat to the most tumultuous events in recent Bay Area history. Through the lens of his camera, the ex-Marine and avid ballroom dancer watched the '60s, '70s and '80s unfold, the Black Panthers, the Free Speech Movement, the San Francisco State University sit-ins and two presidential assassination attempts.
Buck liked to boast that he shook the hands of six presidents during his career. He raced to where the action was, said his daughter Laury Joseph. "He did whatever it took to get the story."
He earned his first citation from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, San Francisco Chapter, in 1972 for "extraordinary achievements as a news cameraman and for his dedicated concern as a journalist toward improving the quality of television news." Two years later he earned a statuette award for "outstanding individual craft achievement" for his coverage of local floods.
Born in San Leandro, Buck grew up working his father's ranch and flower farm. At 17, to help his family earn money during the Depression years, he joined the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1937. He enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps in 1940 and was stationed in Iceland, and was redeployed after the attack on Pearl Harbor to the South Pacific as a member of the elite Marine Parachute Corps in the Soloman Islands. Returning home after the war in 1944, Buck bought a still camera and freelanced pictures to the Oakland Tribune and other local newspapers.
Eventually he became an Tribune staff photographer, covering local breaking news for 15 years. Looking to move into motion pictures, he left the Tribune and became an independent producer, and later joined the ABC affiliate KGO-TV soon after it opened a news bureau.
In his retirement, he restored a 1936 International truck, relished the Delta evenings on his Sea Ray cabin cruiser, and enjoyed traveling with his long-time companion Margaret Wiley to the historic sites of the American West. Always a good dancer, Buck became active on the senior ballroom dance scene, attending several dances a week. He was slowed only after macular degeneration took much of his sight and lymphoma much of his strength.
Buck was married for 38 years to Carol Donoghue and had six children. They divorced in 1988. He is survived by his sister Rosemary Morrison of Yulee, Florida; his children: Laury Joseph (Doug Rowe) and Martha Joseph (Glen Lewis) of Martinez, Dan Joseph (Eve Werner) of Truckee, Matt Joseph of San Mateo, Jon Joseph (Lynne Esselstein) of Hillsborough, Jennifer Pettley (John) of Salinas.
A private burial will be in San Andreas. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, 1390 Market Street, Suite 1200, San Francisco, CA 94102