President Dwight D. Eisenhower, left, rides in the back seat of a limousine with Vice President Richard M. Nixon and Nixon’s wife, Pat. The Nixon children, Tricia and Julie, sit in front of their parents. The Nixons were at National Airport after returning from a trip to South America in 1960. (Wally McNamee/The Washington Post)

A Marine leads a suspected Viet Cong member during a battalion operation. The soldier carries what appears to be an M-14 and sweats through his flak jacket and trousers in this humid climate. (Wally McNamee/The Washington Post)

Prizewinning photojournalist Wally McNamee, who worked for The Washington Post and Newsweek for more than 40 years, died Friday, Nov. 17, at age 84. “McNamee had a front-row seat observing American history for the latter half of the 20th century,” said friend and Post staff photojournalist John McDonnell. McNamee covered the White House, Capitol Hill, Vietnam, the civil rights movement, the Olympics and the presidential campaigns and conventions of 10 presidents.

Post staff writer Bart Barnes, in McNamee’s obituary, wrote: “Among his most memorable pictures was a photograph of first lady Jacqueline Kennedy disembarking from Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base on Nov. 22, 1963, hours after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination in Dallas. The president’s brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, is holding her hand, and she is still wearing the suit stained with the president’s blood spattered on her by the assassin’s bullets. Mr. McNamee later described it as “a graphic touch to this horrible moment.”

McDonnell admired McNamee early in his career and remembers the first time he met him on assignment for The Post in June 1978. He was photographing a peaceful Native American protest at the FBI building and recalls when McNamee came up to him and said “Are you John McDonnell? I want to tell you I’ve always liked your work, I’ve been following you for a while, and I think you’re doing a hell of a job.” McDonnell said McNamee always provided him with feedback about his work and remembers him being supportive and encouraging to him and other photographers.

“To be a good photographer, you have to be really good with people, and that at times can be a very hard thing. McNamee had everybody on his side from the beginning in a tough town,” McDonnell said.

McDonnell watched McNamee use his sense of humor and positive outlook to get people in Washington to say yes to him. “A lot of the times, making the photograph is the last and easiest part; it’s getting the access and getting people to cooperate with you, and I think he was a master at that,” McDonnell said.

McDonnell admired McNamee’s work ethic, creativity and ability to shoot everything from sports to fashion. McNamee was one of the few photographers to accompany President Richard M. Nixon on his historic trip to China in 1972, and McDonnell remembers his passion and advocation for photographing foreign stories.

Through the years, McDonnell worked alongside McNamee at many sporting events, such as the Olympics, Super Bowls and Redskins games. And they covered the White House and Capitol Hill together. “I consider him one of my best friends ever. He was one of my mentors for my career and life.” McDonnell said.

The life lesson McNamee taught McDonnell was that “you try to enjoy yourself as much as you possibly can, no matter what. Period. He enjoyed himself, he really did; I watched it, and it rubbed off on me,” McDonnell said.


Troops use their rifles in an encounter with anti-Vietnam War protesters outside the Pentagon on Oct. 26, 1967. (Wally McNamee/The Washington Post)

The coffin of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy is moved from Air Force One to an ambulance upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base. Robert Kennedy, Jacqueline Kennedy, Kenny O’Donnell and Larry O’Brien stand side-by-side in the doorway. (Wally McNamee/The Washington Post)

Storefronts go up in flames in Washington. Six days of riots that erupted in the District following the assassination of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. on April 4, 1968. (Wally McNamee/The Washington Post)

Democratic presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy is surrounded by supporters as he campaigns in the Indiana presidential primary in 1968. (Wally McNamee/The Washington Post)

FROM LEFT: Mrs. Stephen Shulman, sons Dean, Harry and John, President Lyndon B. Johnson, and Stephen N. Shulman stand in the White House after Schulman was sworn in as chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Sept. 21, 1966. (Wally McNamee/The Washington Post)

Former president Richard M. Nixon gives an interview in the living room of his home. (Wally McNamee/Newsweek/Getty Images)

Former Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, center, watches as U.S. actress Jill St. John greets dignitaries in a receiving line during one of Brezhnev’s visits with President Richard M. Nixon on June 25, 1973. (Wally McNamee/The Washington Post)

President Gerald Ford walks with the Kilgore College Rangerettes in Kilgore, Tex., during the presidential primary. (Wally McNamee/Newsweek/Getty Images)

The Vietnam Veterans Memorial is mobbed by veterans and their families on the day of its dedication, Nov. 13, 1982. (Wally McNamee/Newsweek/Getty Images)

President Jimmy Carter waves from a limousine in India. (Wally McNamee/Newsweek/Getty Images)

President Bill Clinton laughs at Boris Yeltsin’s jokes during a joint news conference in Hyde Park, N.Y., on Oct. 23, 1995. (Wally McNamee/Newsweek/Getty Images)

Undated photo of Wally McNamee. (Courtesy of McNamee family)

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