Bob Child, longtime AP Connecticut photographer, dies at 86

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Bob Child, a longtime Associated Press photographer who covered Connecticut’s biggest news events over a career that spanned nearly a half century, has died. He was 86.

Child died Wednesday in hospice care in Branford, Connecticut, of complications from several illnesses, his family said.

In over 35 years as an AP photographer, his work spanned natural disasters, sports and politics, including an iconic image he shot of Gov. John Rowland leaving a podium with his head bowed upon his 2004 resignation in a corruption scandal.

“He loved what he did,” said his son, Robert Child IV. “He knew Secret Service agents. He knew police chiefs. He knew legislators.”

He was honored with National Associated Press Managing Editors award for a photo that captured a police officer, weeping, as she gave a salute at the 1987 funeral of her fiancé, a fellow Milford officer who was shot and killed during a traffic stop.

Child was on a first-name basis with several Connecticut governors. When Gov. Ella T. Grasso died in 1981, the family asked that Child be one of only two photographers allowed into the church. Gov. Jodi Rell proclaimed Feb. 14, 2007 as Bob Child Day, in honor of his years of AP service.

Child covered his community with pride and compassion and mentored many along the way, said J. David Ake, AP’s director of photography.

“Photographers are often called legendary because of their images. Some are called legendary because of their kind hearts. Bob was both,” Ake said.

Known for his ability to get shots of people who did not want to be photographed, including criminal defendants, Child would often return from successful assignments with a smile and the words, “Bagged him.”

Pat Eaton-Robb, a reporter in AP’s Hartford bureau, said he would always stick by Child’s side when assigned to courthouse events or crime scenes.

“Bobby would always be at the exact right place at the exact right time to get the shot and allow me, as a reporter, to see things I otherwise would not have seen. He also had the sharpest elbows in the business and no reporter or photographer was ever going to get between him and his subject,” Eaton-Robb said.

Child had a twin brother, Pat, who worked for decades as a video journalist for WTNH-TV. Big news stories were often referred to as “Two Child events” by Connecticut journalists because they would bring out both brothers.

Born in Boston and raised in New Haven, Robert Child III attended Yale University on a music scholarship, graduating in 1958. He worked for the New Haven Register and the New Haven Journal-Courier before joining the AP in 1972. He retired in 2009.

Child’s wife, Joan Child, died in 2008, and his brother Pat died in 2004.

He is survived by his three children, Sara Child Stevens, Robert, and Emily Child Smith; eight grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

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