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Monday, July 13, 2015


Photographer John Oldenkamp was also a model aircraft
devotee, who did much to promote the sport.
John Oldenkamp and I were not close, we worked for local magazines in San Diego for most of our careers.  Whenever he was given an assignment, you could count on him delivering a quality image—on time and on budget.  On the times we ran into each other, we enjoyed the moments.

As I mentioned, we were not close but it was still a heartfelt shock to hear from his life partner Carin Howard that John had died last fall.

I felt bad that six months later, I still hadn’t heard.  Stunned, I asked others the circle both John and I traveled in and learned they too were equally surprised by his passing. 

Carin reminded me recently when I ran into her at the Old House Fair in South Park that he didn’t have much use for the spotlight unless it was used to produce some of his photographic work.  He wasn’t big on obits.

John's preservation efforts include an important assemblage of his architectural photography work done in the 1960s and 70s of San Diego of the works of architects Lloyd Ruocco, Paul McKim, Homer Delawie, Deems, Lewis, and Schoell and Geritz. John also renovated one of the Schindler Pueblo units in La Jolla.  Self-employed, he worked out of a studio on Adams Avenue.

John Oldenkamp worked extensively
with local magazines and advertising
  The cover photograph
of Ted Leitner was snapped 

by John for San Diego Magazine in the early 1980s.
Asked Carin if she remembered the photo session that I had assigned to John when I was executive editor at San Diego Magazine and he was the magazine's contributing photographer, she replied,  “Of course. We had a lot of fun with that bagel.”

The resulting image of TV sports caster Ted Leitner graced the cover of San Diego Magazine in February, 1982.  “John was just as good indoors as a studio photographer or outdoors,” she said and added, "I still can't believe he's gone." 

But John’s work was not limited to San Diego.  He was recognized most notably for work with Psychology Today Magazine.

After he retired as a photographer, John devoted four years as president of the San Diego Art Director's Club, which later became the SD Communicating Arts Group. 

He was elected to the National Free Flight Society Hall of Fame in 1998 for excellence in aeromodelling design and editorial work. 

As a model plane enthusiast, John was instrumental in the birth, specification, promotion, and support of the P-30 free flight model airplane class as we know it today. Additionally he was a driving force in the development the E36 free flight class. He served as President and Newsletter Editor for the San Diego Orbiteer Free Flight Club.

Born in 1931, he was an Honors graduate, DePauw University, and had military service, USN, 1950-54.
The long time resident of San Diego’s historic South Park neighborhood, John Oldenkamp died of complications from cancer. He was 83.

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