DeVore, a true Aspen original, dies at age 54 in Arizona town |

DeVore, a true Aspen original, dies at age 54 in Arizona town

World-renown photojournalist, artist and former Aspen resident Nicholas DeVore III died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on Friday, May 16.

DeVore, 54, lived in Bisbee, Ariz., at the time of his death. DeVore gained notoriety during adventurous travels for National Geographic magazine, and friends who traveled to Bisbee late last week found that he had made a strong impression on the town.

DeVore’s friend and colleague, Janie Bennett, said locals put up a shrine to the late photographer alongside his Bisbee gallery, ArtAttack.

“There was just an outpouring of love for him – silk flowers, photos, and people just coming by and paying tribute,” she said. “We were just so moved that he had touched so many lives.”

DeVore was born on April 24, 1949, in Paris, the son of U.S. Air Force Maj. Nicholas DeVore II and British-born Sheila Barry DeVore. He was brought up in Europe and Aspen, where he developed his love for the mountains.

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DeVore graduated as class president from Aspen High School, where he played hockey and ski jumped for the Aspen Ski Club. He graduated from Outward Bound and the National Outdoor Leadership School, and worked as a wilderness

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ranger, soloing with pack horses as he studied photography.

He spent 21 years traveling the world taking photos for publications such as National Geographic, Fortune and Life magazines.

“He was a lot of things and a true adventurer,” Bennett said. “He traversed all corners of the globe, being shipwrecked in Africa, flying in illegal airspace in the Himalayas, and crossing the Pacific with Polynesian seafarers.”

Bennett worked with DeVore for 22 years at the local office of Photographers Aspen along with co-partners David Hiser and Paul Chesley.

“As a person, I think he was as devilishly charming as he was wicked,” she said. “He was a poet with a camera. He was innately gifted.”

Sam Abell, who has been a staff photographer at National Geographic for 33 years, said DeVore was the most charismatic and flamboyant character he has ever come across. Abell and DeVore worked for the magazine together for eight years in the ’70s, when DeVore was freelancing.

“He was the person the photo editors called on for adventure,” Abell said. “Even though the name `adventure travel’ didn’t exist then, he would have been its primary photographer.”

DeVore would send postcards back from his assignments, Abell said, and would make a taxi ride or a walk across Washington, D.C., adventurous.

“He couldn’t tolerate not only boredom, but any ordinary situation,” Abell said. “He would take an ordinary situation and light it up somehow. He would really put an edge on things, but people sensed that he was good-spirited and warmhearted, and it allowed him to get away with a lot socially.”

In a 1974 article in The Aspen Times about his many travels, DeVore said, “I feel like a humanitarian … turning on all those people to how I feel about places and people. Introducing my friends to my other friends.”

DeVore was a frequent lecturer and fellow of the Explorers Club, a member of the Society for Photographic Education, the International Advisory Board of Friends of Africa, the board of trustees for the Aspen Art Museum, and the director of Galerie Foto Arte. He also taught at Anderson Ranch in Snowmass Village, Maine Photographic Workshops and Telluride’s Autumn Eye.

His work is on display in New York, Los Angeles, London, Milan, Tokyo and Aspen, and is also found in numerous private collections and public places.

In 1994, DeVore moved to Bisbee, where he pursued his art and founded the gallery ArtAttack. He began his career as a photojournalist, reached his peak and ended his career as an artist, Bennett said.

DeVore is survived by his mother Sheila, wife Karinjo, son Nicholas IV and daughter Katrina.

An event to celebrate his life and work will be announced at a later date.

[Naomi Havlen’s e-mail address is]

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