(Kansas City, Missouri) - Richard L. Berkley once said, "I like meeting people."
Before, during, and after his record three-term tenure as Kansas City's mayor - from 1979 to 1991 - he met hundreds of political leaders, entertainers, sports stars, and other celebrities. Most times, Berkley asked to take their pictures. His personal collection ranges from images of Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and Henry Kissinger to shots of Frank Sinatra, Diane Sawyer, Bo Jackson, and burlesque star Tempest Storm.
The former mayor and lifelong shutterbug offers an illustrated retrospective on Sunday, February 8, 2015, discussing his start with a camera, the stories behind his photos, and the ones that got away - the rare celebrities who turned him down. His 2 p.m. presentation at the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St., is part of the Missouri Valley Sundays series, a program of the Library's Missouri Valley Special Collections made possible in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The event coincides with an exhibit of Berkley's collected images, Dick Berkley: A Mayor, a Camera, a Life in Pictures, on display in the Genevieve Guldner Gallery at the Central Library through March 8, 2015.
Now 83 and still living in Kansas City with his wife Sandy, Berkley estimates that he has snapped some 150,000 photos. To some extent, he says, he was chronicling a slice of Kansas City's history as he clicked away. More than that was his interest in people. He never met a U.S. president, sports star, movie personality, or average Joe he couldn't try to capture in color or black and white.
Many made for indelible memories. Berkley's first meeting with Gerald R. Ford, for example, came while Ford was the U.S. House Minority Leaders and Berkley was a city councilman charged with picking him up at Kansas City International Airport. En route, he ran out of gas. Berkley thumbed a ride to the airport, rented a car, and made the pickup and delivery of the future 38th president as though nothing were amiss. He retrieved his own car the next day.
Beyond local functions and brushes with celebrity, Berkley's vast collection of photos draws from his travels across the nation and more than 70 countries around the world.
Admission to the event is free. RSVP at kclibrary.org or call 816.701.3407. Free parking is available in the Library District parking garage at 10th and Baltimore.