While visiting family in Texas in November 1963, Steven Alexander heard that President Kennedy had been assassinated, and he immediately headed to Dallas with his photojournalist gear.
Mr. Alexander, who then was a 24-year-old cameraman for KTAL-TV in Shreveport, La., spent two days waiting at the Dallas police station where accused assassin Lee Harvey Oswald was being held.
As police led Oswald out of the building’s basement on Nov. 24, Mr. Alexander was filming the scene from a few feet away when Dallas nightclub owner Jack Ruby fatally shot Oswald.
“I kept rolling, and I saw the back of Ruby and then I saw them wrestling with Ruby to get the gun away from him,” Mr. Alexander told the Globe in 2008.
Mr. Alexander, who also was a commercial and art photographer, died of esophageal cancer Dec. 22 in Massachusetts General Hospital. He was 73 and had lived in Woburn for about 20 years.
“I filmed the entire event, from Oswald entering the garage, through the chaos, to the subduing of Ruby,” he said in an interview posted on
typepad.com. “My film shows Ruby entering the scene, drawing the gun, and firing. The muzzle blast and a still flash overexpose one frame. It was then, and still is today, the most historic image I ever captured. People still ask me about it.”
In the years that followed, Mr. Alexander covered events in the South during the civil rights era and was in Chicago for the rioting outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Over the years, he met and filmed each president from Lyndon B. Johnson through Ronald Reagan, his family said.
Mr. Alexander’s still photography was published in magazines including Life and Ladies’ Home Journal, his family said, and in 2006, he exhibited part of his collection in a Winchester museum.
“I don’t care how good your technique is or how artistic you are,” he told the Globe in 2008. “If the photograph doesn’t communicate, it’s just a snapshot.”
Steven L. Alexander was born and grew up in Waco, Texas. While in high school, a local television station hired him to make sketches of the action inside courtrooms, and he shot still photographs of a murder trial in 1954.
After graduating from Waco High School in 1957, he enrolled in classes at colleges, and attended schools including Texas Christian University and the University of Maryland.
In 1958, Mr. Alexander married Areve Brachman, whom he had met on a blind date.
He started out as a news photographer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and by the time he was 20, magazines were publishing his work.
Before becoming a photojournalist and television cameraman, he wanted to be an artist. But he met future CBS news anchor Dan Rather, who also grew up in Texas, and Rather persuaded Mr. Alexander that he would make more money in television.
In 1962, Mr. Alexander went to the campus of the University of Mississippi in Oxford to cover the riots that occurred after James Meredith, an African-American and Air Force veteran, attempted to integrate the all-white school.
Mr. Alexander “got the story out,” said his son Benjamin of Los Angeles, who added that “equal rights for African-
Americans were important to him.”
While filming the violence, Mr. Alexander was threatened and taunted, his family said.
“I think he wished that he had had a greater impact on the things he was covering,” his son said. “Part of his humility is that he didn’t understand that covering those stories and getting the word out did have an impact.”
Mr. Alexander’s wife said: “He wanted to put other people in the spotlight. He didn’t want to be in the spotlight himself.”
From 1966 until 1970, Mr. Alexander worked out of Washington, D.C.
In addition to being assigned to cover the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in 1968, Mr. Alexander covered the aftermath of the 1972 shooting of presidential candidate George Wallace in Maryland, his family said.
There was risk, his wife said, but “the responsibility of getting visual information to people was what this was about.”
Before settling in Woburn in 1992, Mr. Alexander worked as a freelancer for about 15 years, living in Dayton, Ohio, and in Winchester.
Mr. Alexander was a member of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, the White House News Photographers Association, and the American Society of Media Photographers.
In the later part of his career, he returned to commercial and art photography. A photograph he shot of the National Gallery of Art in Washington was exhibited in China and is now part of a US State Department collection, his family said.
A service has been held for Mr. Alexander, who in addition to his wife and son leaves another son, Rick of Wilmington, Del.; a sister, Phyllis Ullman of Houston; and four grandchildren.
In recent years, Mr. Alexander joined with other news photographers in an informal group that met once a month at North Shore Chinese restaurants.
“He had grace,” said Greg Mironchuk, a retired freelance photographer who organized the group, which has met monthly for more than two decades. “He never said anything bad about anybody, and he always did things to the best of his ability. He was one of those kinds of guys.”
Michele Richinick can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.