Longtime Lake Oswego resident James C. Vincent, who was Jim to those who knew him, died June 4 in Wilsonville following a short illness. He was 86 and passed away surrounded by his family.
Jim Vincent followed in his father's footsteps as a newspaper photographer, joining the staff of the Oregon Journal in 1954. He moved to The Oregonian in 1965 and worked there until his retirement in 1995.
Vincent covered nearly every U.S. president in office during his storied career, plus major news stories and sports events across the Northwest. He was The Oregonian's chief photographer from 1979 to 1989.
Highlights of his lifelong journalism career included photographing an historic summit between President Richard Nixon and Japanese Emperor Hirohito in 1971, the eruption of Mount St. Helens, the return of American POWs after the Vietnam War, flying with President Gerald Ford on Air Force One and President John F. Kennedy's 1963 visit to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.
Vincent was an expert in aerial photography, bringing unique views to the pages of the newspaper. He loved to fly and spent countless hours in the air with Leverett Richards, The Oregonian's reporter-pilot. He immersed himself in photographing the traditions of the city and state, covering several decades of Rose Festival Grand Floral Parades, St. Paul Rodeos and Pendleton Round-Ups.
Perhaps the pinnacle of his career came when Vincent, a devout Catholic, had the opportunity to photograph and meet Pope John Paul II while covering the pontiff's visit to Canada in 1984.
"To young reporters as well as photographers, Jim was always generous, explaining the visual aspects of each assignment," remembers former editor Gayle Karol, who worked with Vincent for years. "He was kind and funny. You knew he was a father."
News of Vincent's death prompted an outpouring of memories from photographers whose lives and careers he impacted. Photojournalist Tim Jewett says Vincent "was the one that gave me my first big break in the news business, leading to a long and very satisfying career."
Longtime Journal and Oregonian photographer Roger Jensen recalls how Vincent helped him in his first days at the newspapers on assignments that ranged from football games to the Pendleton rodeo and more.
"He worked hard on organization and had assignments all set so everyone knew who, what and where," Jensen says. "He was a good man."
In addition to his professionalism, several former colleagues say Vincent had a playful side.
"Almost every time after an assignment, he'd walk up to the news desk with a big grin and his hands behind his back," says former editor Nick Bertram. "Slowly he'd pull out a photo, then another, then another, and finally he'd drop his best shot on the desk with a triumphant smile."
Born on Dec. 3, 1931, in Portland's Emanuel Hospital, Vincent attended Sacred Heart Grade School (now Our Lady of the Lake) in Lake Oswego. His family moved to Brookings for a short time, where he graduated as Valedictorian from Brookings High School in 1950. He went on to Oregon State College and then the University of Portland, earning a Business degree in 1954. He was president of his senior class.
He married Margaret Patricia "Patty" Paulsen in 1959, starting a 58-year marriage full of love, travel and family camping adventures. Vincent traveled to all 50 states and discovered a love of cruising following his 1995 retirement. An Eagle Scout, he was exceptionally proud that he was able to guide all four of his sons to the rank of Eagle.
A volunteer board member for Oregonians Federal Credit Union from 1977 until 2009, Vincent served as the board chair for much of that time. He was also a longtime board member of the Glenmorrie Water Cooperative Association. In addition, Vincent was a lifetime member of the National Press Photographers Association and a past-president of the Oregon Press Photographers Association.
Vincent is survived by his wife Patty; sons James (Raema) and Richard (Rebecca) of Lake Oswego; David (Robin) of Raleigh, N.C.; John (Cheryl) of Portland; and three grandchildren, Grace, Mary Frances and Nancy. He was preceded in death by his parents Ralph and Mary Vincent of Lake Oswego, sister Nancy O'Rourke Tang of Portland and half-siblings June Pajari and Stewart Vincent.
A recitation of the Holy Rosary will be held at 7 p.m. on Thursday, June 14, at Riverview Abbey, 0319 S.W. Taylors Ferry Road in Portland. Vincent's funeral mass will be held at 11 a.m. on Friday, June 15, at Our Lady of the Lake Church, 790 A. Ave., Lake Oswego. Burial will follow at Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Portland.
The family requests donations be made to St. Vincent de Paul Society of Portland or the National Park Foundation in lieu of flowers. Arrangements are being handled by Riverview Abbey.
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