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National Award-Winning News Cameraman and Sanibel Resident Donates Collection to FGCU Archives
FORT MYERS, FL - This week, an award-winning NBC news cameraman, resident of Sanibel Island and walking history book, Charles Ray, donated his collection of images, publications, camera equipment and other memorabilia to the Florida Gulf Coast University Foundation for use in the library by researchers and students for educational purposes.
The collection, formally known as the Charles Ray Photo Archives, includes photographs, negatives, journals, audiotapes, videotapes, photography books and periodicals, a newsreel camera, a sound newsreel projector, 16mm film and other associated keepsakes.
“In his travels with NBC News, Charles Ray has been everywhere, seen everything and met everyone of national and international renown,” senior director of campaigns, Linda Lehtomaa, said. “We are thrilled that his photographs and other memorabilia resulting from his 25 years as a photojournalist with NBC News will now reside at FGCU.”
Ray’s career began in 1953 in Cadillac, Mich. at WWTV. He later moved to KWWL in Iowa and returned to Michigan at WNEM. He settled in Chicago in 1961, working first for WGN and then switching to NBC News Chicago in 1965.
“I had a long career in broadcast and I am a saver of material,” Ray said. “I’ve accumulated so much information that I have 30 boxes filled with memorabilia. I wanted to find it a home.”
Ray was an eyewitness to many historical events in the latter part of the 20th century. He covered every presidential campaign from 1960 to 1987 and social-changing measures, such as the Martin Luther King Jr. march in Selma, Ala.
Some of Ray’s filming is legendary, including footage of the bloody clash between police and anti-Vietnam War demonstrators at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, and a bombing during the rebel insurrection in Nicaragua that was so close that when it aired - unedited - it included a 30-second blackout.
Ray also filmed Anwar Sadat’s historic visit in 1977 with Menachem Begin in Jerusalem and the 1978 Jonestown massacre in Guyana. He has had several stories appear on the Today Show and he personally suffered through a horrific police beating in Cleveland during unrest.
Still, he never stopped believing in his work. “Take away the camera and you wouldn’t have television news,” Ray remarked.
The Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and the National Press Photographers Association both honored Ray. He has awards from the Illinois Press Photographers Association and the Chicago Press Photographers Association, including three-time Cameraman of the Year.
Ray also completed a book about his career, The Life of a Network Newsreel Cameraman, from the diary he kept for 30 years. He has conducted numerous workshops and lectures.
Ray said FGCU graciously accepted his work and he is delighted. “I wanted the satisfaction of seeing my work affect some young artist, photographer or writer,” he said.
For more information, contact Lehtomaa at (941) 590-1071.