Richard T. "Dick" Ham
July 11, 1920 - April 10, 2014
Our beloved brother and uncle Richard T. "Dick" Ham passed away quietly with family by his side at the Veteran's Hospital, Palo Alto on April 10, 2014. Only recently had he shown signs of slowing down when he fed the deer that appeared just outside his window every morning. He lived alone but remained in active communication with his family and his many friends worldwide. He was a cinematographer, a teacher and a writer.
Dick was born to Myrtle and William H. Ham on July 11, 1920 in the town of Ceres, CA. In Ceres High School he developed a passion for photography that lasted a lifetime. He graduated from Modesto Junior College and Art Center School of Design in Los Angeles where he studied photography until June of 1942 when he faced being drafted during World War II.
In Hollywood, he learned to use a movie camera after a brief training period by a movie studio cameraman. The next day he enlisted in the army as a cinematographer with the U. S. Army Signal Corps and was promptly sent to the European Theater of Operations. As a combat photographer, he had many assignments in Western Europe and North Africa. He became acquainted with many reporters and photographers who later became famous such as Andy Rooney, Lee Miller and also Lowell Thomas whom he accompanied to the Middle East. Toward the end of the war he did a portrait photo session with Pablo Picasso.
Back home, he became an instructor in film making at Art Center School of Design and later worked for Ramo Wooldridge Corp. In 1953 when he was in Spain with Hoyning Huene to film the Don Quixote story, he sent for his fiancee Phyllis Schmidle. They were married in Tangiers and had their honeymoon in Spain.
On moving from Los Angeles to Palo Alto, he worked for Lockheed doing commercial films until he established his own commercial film business for a few years before joining the faculty of San Francisco City College. For 27 years he taught cinematography at the college as well as setting up and organizing that department to train students for the film production industry.
Preceded in death by his wife Phyllis and his brother Gordon Ham, he is survived by his sister, Doreen Mauk (Merlin), Sacramento; sister-in-law Betty Ham, Sonora; niece, Marilyn Thompson, Sonora; nephews Norman Ham (Leslie), Modesto; Ronald Ham, (Mary), Livermore; Mitchell Mauk (Solange), San Francisco; Russell Mauk (Daryl), San Ramon; Glenn Mauk (Rae Jean), Atascadero and his very special friend Huguette Sordoillet of Paris, France.
A celebration of his life will be held at a later date.
Published in the Modesto Bee on May 25, 2014