Photographer, John Richard LaFond, 83, of Seal Rock, OR, stepped over to “the other side” on Monday, October 18th. He transitioned peacefully at home with his wife Alice by his side. Also present was his good friend, Cathy Webb, also his caregiver for 4 years. Richard was regarded by everyone he met as being a kind, reliable friend… as well as a bonafide gentleman. Richard was born on May 16th, 1938 in Detroit, Michigan. He was preceded in death by his father, Jack LaFond of Windsor, Ontario Canada; his stepfather of 66 years, Andre Karakesh; and his mother, Katherine Bernstein Karakesh of Detroit, Michigan.
At age 15, Richard decided to leave Detroit and move to Hollywood, California to reside with his grandparents, Sol and Laura Bernstein. It was there he met his wife, Alice in 1960, who had just arrived from New Jersey. They married on Valentine’s Day at the Little Brown Church in Studio City in 1963. Their special song becomes “My Funny Valentine” sung and played by Richard’s favorite trumpet player, Chet Baker. Trumpet was Richie’s favorite musical instrument; and he studied with John Nielson, a jazz trumpeter for 2 years.
Richie joined the screen actors and screen extras guilds in his late teens doing bit parts in movies and TV shows, mostly motorcycle stunts, in order to earn money. While attending Los Angeles Technological Institute to study courses in Lithography while attending night school. He worked in a Lithography studio for experience. Shortly afterwards, he became interested in photography and began with an old view camera and built up a Hasselblad System. His start in photography happened when he was hired as Steve Allen’s still photographer on the Tonight Show. From there he went to shoot pictures for other shows and for the actors’ portfolios. This was a springboard for him being hired by the LA Times news department to photograph local politicians and miscellaneous special assignments. As a freelance photographer, he was able to own his negatives, leaving him in possession of many rare and candid pictures of political figures and celebrities in the sixties – a theme he has shown at various galleries and events centers from LA to the SF Bay area, to the central coast of Oregon.
Just prior to moving to the bay area, while in Venice Beach, he and his wife purchased a diesel rig and hooked up with United Van Lines delivering military equipment to and from bases in the lower 48 states. The experience allowed them to explore historic sites and visit family on the east coast regularly.
In 1973, the LaFonds relocated to the SF Bay area, where he photographed weddings, banquets, political gatherings, individual portraits, and theater actors for 29 years. While shooting pictures weekends, during the week days, he drove sand and gravel truck for Rhodes-Jamieson, a local quarry in Pleasanton, California.
In December of 2001, Richard and Alice moved to their property in Seal Rock and began retirement. After trips to various parts of the globe, they decided the central coast of Oregon was perfect for good air, good scenery, and good people. He continued shooting pictures full time and displaying them in the various shows and galleries and event centers from Florence to Lincoln City. He served one year as President of the Yaquina Arts Association Photographers Club, a member of the Yaquina Arts Gallery in Nye Beach, a member of the Four C’s Camera Club, and also a lifetime member of the P.P.G.B.A (Professional Photographers of the Greater Bay Area). He received an award in 2006 for his photograph of “Old Coronet.” Later, he received a picture of the year award for a B&W photo of “Cape Foulweather Lighthouse” (now known as Yaquina Head Lighthouse).
Richard considered each and every day on this planet a “Celebration of his Life.”
Donations may be made to the Alzheimer Foundation in his name.