Walt Zeboski in 1988
Then-Gov. Ronald Reagan and son Ron. Walt Zeboski AP photo
Gov. "Pat" Brown in Angels Camp. Walt Zeboski AP photo
SACRAMENTO, CA - An Associated Press photographer who chronicled decades of important people and events in Northern California has died following a brief illness.
Walt Zeboski, 83, died Monday at his Sacramento home.
AP photographer Rich Pedroncelli said he learned nearly everything he knows about news photography from Zeboski and choked up as he spoke about his mentor.
"He was just a good person, and he translated being a good person into his job," Pedroncelli said.
Pedroncelli said Zeboski had a special talent for anticipating action and putting himself in position to get the best photograph.
"I watched him. He always was in the right spot," Pedroncelli said.
Zeboski's memorable images include a dazed Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme sitting in the backseat of a car following her attempted assassination of President Gerald Ford in 1975 and Queen Elizabeth visiting Yosemite National Park in 1983.
Pedroncelli said Zeboski was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for a feature photograph of Governor Edmund "Pat" Brown holding a frog at the Jumping Frog Jubilee in Angels Camp.
Pedroncelli said Zeboski's favorite newsmaker was Ronald Reagan, who was California's first celebrity governor.
Zeboski was given extraordinary access to the Reagan family in Sacramento, photographing intimate moments at their home on 45th Street.
One photograph shows then-Gov. Reagan playing football in the yard with his son, Ron.
Pedroncelli said the Associated Press offered Zeboski the opportunity to follow Reagan to the White House in 1980, but Zeboski declined.
"He liked Sacramento," Pedroncelli said.
Zeboski retired from the AP in the late 1980s following a stroke but remained active until shortly before his death.
Walt Zeboski is survived by his wife, Virginia and son, Jan.
The family is planning a private memorial service at their home on Saturday.
by George Warren, GWarren@news10.net