Ferd Kaufman longtime AP photographer dead at 89
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Ferd Kaufman, longtime AP photographer, dead at 89

Ferd Kaufman, an Associated Press photographer who was at Dallas police headquarters as authorities brought in President John F. Kennedy's assassin, has died in Texas. He was 89.

Former Dallas Associated Press photo staffer Ferd Kaufman is shown in a June 27, 2015 photo in Richardson, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Heflin)
Former Dallas Associated Press photo staffer Ferd Kaufman is shown in a June 27, 2015 photo in Richardson, Texas. (AP Photo/Ron Heflin)

Ida Kaufman, his wife, said Thursday that her husband died Wednesday in a local hospital after several months of failing health.

The Sapulpa, Oklahoma, native joined The AP in 1957 and during his 20 years with the news cooperative in Texas helped cover the initial days after Kennedy was killed.

Friend and former Associated Press colleague Harold Waters said Kaufman was awaiting Kennedy's arrival at the Dallas Trade Mart on Nov. 22, 1963, where the president was to speak, when his editors alerted him to Kennedy's shooting and recalled him.

When he arrived, Kaufman and Waters were dispatched to the Texas Theatre in the city's Oak Cliff section in response to a police report of an arrest of a suspect in the fatal shooting of a police officer. With Kaufman at the wheel, the two were hurtling over the Trinity River bridge when a police car passed them from the opposite direction, lights flashing but with no siren, Waters said.

Kaufman turned around. "He said, 'I may be looking for work tomorrow, but I'm going to follow that car,'" Waters said.

Arriving at police headquarters, Kaufman got his camera, got out of the car, told Waters to find a parking spot and hustled into the city jail. Just as he was entering the jail, an elevator door opened and detectives entered with the man later to be identified as Lee Harvey Oswald, Waters said. Kaufman shot two frames, gave them to Waters to take to the office and remained on station.

Waters, 98, said he and Kaufman remained on the job from that Friday through the day and night Saturday. He remembers he and Kaufman waited in the corridor of police headquarters with dozens of reporters, photographers and television cameras as Oswald was hustled back and forth between news conferences and police questioning. Also milling in the crowd were interested members of the public — including nightclub owner Jack Ruby, who would fatally shoot Oswald Nov. 24 in the basement of police headquarters.

Kaufman retired from the AP in 1977. A memorial is scheduled for 4 p.m. Monday at First United Methodist Church in Richardson, Texas. Burial will be private at Restland Cemetery in Richardson.