Cleveland Photo Icon Ron Kuntz, 78

Mar 7, 2013
Photographer Ron Kuntz posed against a projected black-and-white slide of one of his photographs of former Cleveland Browns receiver Reggie Rucker, who was diving for a poss during a Browns game at the old Municipal Stadium in Cleveland during the 1970s. Photograph by John Kuntz-The Plain Dealer
Photographer Ron Kuntz posed against a projected black-and-white slide of one of his photographs of former Cleveland Browns receiver Reggie Rucker, who was diving for a poss during a Browns game at the old Municipal Stadium in Cleveland during the 1970s. Photograph by John Kuntz-The Plain Dealer

CLEVELAND, OH (March 7, 2013) – Veteran news and sports photographer Ron Kuntz, the father of photojournalist John Kuntz, passed away last night. 

Cleveland Plain Dealer photography director Bill Gugliotta informed photographers and friends of Kuntz's death in an eMail this morning.

"In his more than 50 years as a professional photographer, Ron covered baseball, football, basketball, boxing, golf, horse racing and the summer and winter Olympic Games," Gugliotta said. "He was also on the scene for such news events as the Sam Sheppard murder trials, the Kent State war protest, as well as the Hough Riot and Glenville Shootout in Cleveland. He was beloved and acclaimed for both his photography and his prison ministry. As former Plain Dealer writer Burt Graeff's book about Ron proclaimed, he was a 'Cleveland original.' His friends might add that he was also a Cleveland treasure."

"One of the great wire service shooters has left us," Dallas Morning News photography director Chris Wilkins said this morning. "Ron was a mentor to a whole generation of photojournalists coming up through the wires, but his greatest work was done in the way he lived his life and helped others. It was a true privilege to know him,"

Kuntz, 78, shot for UPI until 1991, and has been working as a freelancer since then. His book, "A Cleveland Original," included photographs from his five decades of photographing boxing, baseball, Olympic Games, basketball, football, golf, and horse racing. His accomplishments were recognized by his peers when he was inducted into the Cleveland Journalism Hall of Fame.

BELOW: Cleveland Browns football great Jerry Sherk (left) towered over photographer Ron Kuntz on the sidelines in the 1980s. Sherk's interest in photography was sparked when he was injured and was recovering from a staph infection in the 1979 and 1980 seasons. He asked UPI photographer Ron Kuntz about the craft in the locker room one day. Kuntz showed him the ropes and helped him set up a darkroom in his house. The two shot a number of events together, including the Kentucky Derby and Cleveland Indians spring training. Photograph courtesy of Ron Kuntz