Barry Thumma: Photographing the Presidents and Other High Profile Subjects

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By Alex Novak
Running on his Track Record (President Jimmy Carter)
Running on his Track Record (President Jimmy Carter)

Barry L. Thumma was born in 1947. He graduated in 1965 from Penn Manor High School and attended Millersville University.

Thumma was an Associated Press photographer, who covered four presidents. In his 20-year career with the AP, he traveled on more than 100 Air Force One flights to photograph presidents Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

He also photographed Pope John Paul II, Jerry Falwell, Mikhail Gorbachev, Michael Deaver, Alan Greenspan and Donald Rumsfeld, among other personalities and politicians of his time.

He was a member of the White House News Photographers Association. Thumma began his career in 1967 as a part-time photographer for the Lancaster New Era. He joined the Associated Press in 1973 in Cincinnati, where he covered the Reds and the Bengals. After two years as the Ohio photo editor, Thumma moved to Washington, D.C. to cover the White House.

He also captured heartbreaking images of the famine in Ethiopia, NASA space flight operations and troop actions in the field.

He retired from the Washington bureau in 1993 after being diagnosed with multiple myeloma, a type of bone cancer and died from its complications on November 25, 2003. He was 56.