Richard Berkley was 9 years old when a Kansas City Times photographer snapped a picture of him in the stands at old Municipal Stadium, baseball glove in hand, hoping to snag a foul ball as he rooted for the minor-league Kansas City Blues.
He would go on to spend considerable time on both sides of the lens - as a Kansas City councilman and then the longest-serving mayor in the city's history and as a prolific amateur photographer who 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.
Now 83 and still living in Kansas City with his wife Sandy, Berkley estimates that he has snapped some 150,000 photos. A new exhibit at the downtown Central Library, 14 W. 10th St., features a selection of those shots along with dozens of others taken of Berkley alongside luminaries ranging from Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan to Walter Cronkite, John McEnroe, and burlesque star Tempest Storm.
Dick Berkley: A Mayor, A Camera, A Life in Pictures opens in the Genevieve Guldner Gallery on Saturday, January 24, 2015. It runs through Sunday, March 8.
To some extent, Berkley says, he was chronicling a slice of Kansas City's history as he clicked away. More than that, "I enjoy meeting people of all different kinds and experiences," he says. "It's part of what life is about."
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.
He stores most of his vast personal collection on photo chips and thousands of prints in a vault in the basement of a Main Street law firm. He and Sandy have more than 100 of his pictures framed on the walls of their home.
The former mayor will discuss his collection and the six-week exhibit at the Central Library on Sunday, February 8, 2015. The Missouri Valley Sundays presentation begins at 2 p.m.
Admission to the exhibit is free. Free parking is available in the Library District parking garage at 10th and Baltimore.