Gary Settle

Gary Settle was born in Walnut, Kansas, June 13, 1937. He was delivered by his grandfather, a country doctor, in the sunporch of his house, which had no running water.

His father was a CPA in Hutchinson. He was also a serious and inventive amateur photographer who got Gary interested in taking pictures and taught him the basics of developing film and making prints. Gary took pictures for his high school paper and yearbook, and his father connected him with his first part-time job, with fellow Rotarian Fred Wulfekuhler, who was Sunday editor and photographer for The Hutchinson News-Herald.

After four and a half years as darkroom boy/photographer at the newspaper, Gary, then a student at Kansas State College, was hired by Rich Clarkson at The Topeka Capital-Journal in 1958 to become the first summer photo intern. He was invited back the next summer. That June, he met Patti, and by the next February, they were married. Patti didn’t know what she was in for over the next 52 years of their marriage.

In early 1966, Gary followed Bill Snead, a fellow native Kansan, to The Wilmington (Del) News-Journal on the East Coast. But in November that year, Chuck Scott enticed Gary with a job offer at The Chicago Daily News, saying, “We’ll show those jokers at the Tribune how to do photojournalism,” a pledge that soon came true.  For the next three years, the Newspaper Photographer of the Year award went to Chuck Scott’s photographers, unprecedented for any of the nearly 100 photographers at Chicago’s four newspapers.

For Settle’s work in 1967, he was named 1968 Newspaper Photographer of the Year. The 1969 award went to Perry Riddle, another native Kansan that the Chicago Daily News hired away from Clarkson at The Topeka Capital-Journal.

In the spring of 1969, New York Times picture editor John Morris met Gary and asked if he’d like to come to New York and shoot for The Times. Settle, a Midwesterner at heart, hesitantly replied, “Mmmm, I don’t really think so.” Morris responded, “How would you like to work for The Times out of its Chicago bureau?” That brought a quick yes. By July, he was The New York Times’ only staff photographer west of the East Coast, with a beat that took him to 30 or 40 states.  One of his first assignments was to Houston for the return of the Apollo 11 astronauts.

In 1970, Gary was again named Photographer of the Year.

He was elected president of National Press Photographers Association in 1977. A year later, he accepted a new challenge, at The Seattle Times. Intrepid and long-suffering Patti was game for this too, as were their three boys, who found themselves in a good place to finish their schooling.

Gary became the new Assistant Managing Editor/Graphics at the Seattle Times, responsible for the photography and art departments and the overall design of the news sections of the newspaper. Over the course of 20 years there, thanks to the infusion of a new newsroom philosophy and an influx of many good new hires, many of whom Gary hired himself, he was able to retire in 1999 with a high degree of satisfaction. Patti began flourishing as an artist with a local following in her own right until cancer took her in 2012.

Despite the havoc wreaked on newspapers in the last two decades, The Seattle Times is much more sophisticated and well-regarded than the paper Gary first encountered and marked up with a red grease pencil in 1979. He remains grateful for a steadfast publisher, Frank Blethen, the fifth-generation of family owners, and the forty years of kick-ass collegial newsroom teams they supported.

Gary lives in Kingston, Washington, with his wife, Janice, and their dog and cat. His three sons and their wives and six grandchildren all live in the state of Washington.