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Dodge City Daily Globe - Dodge City, KS
  • Claude Hetzel collection donated to city by daughter

  • Claude Hetzel ran a photography studio in Dodge City from the mid-1940s until 1968 when he died. The studio was in the Hetzel family home on West Trail Street, but Hetzel's lens captured the entire spectrum of life in Dodge City.
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  • Claude Hetzel ran a photography studio in Dodge City from the mid-1940s until 1968 when he died. The studio was in the Hetzel family home on West Trail Street, but Hetzel's lens captured the entire spectrum of life in Dodge City.
    When Hetzel's wife died in 1978, their daughter, Jean Hetzel (Krisle) Blasi, inherited a large collection of her father's photographs.
    Blasi, who now lives in east Texas, wanted the photographs to be cared for and appreciated, so she contacted the Dodge City Convention and Visitor Bureau and offered to donate the collection to the city.
    Jan Stevens, director of the CVB, contacted Barb Vincent, director of the Kansas Heritage Center, and soon the photos were in Dodge City, being sorted, identified, numbered and archived for future research.
    The photos record people and places in and around Dodge City but they are not identified in any way.
    So the Heritage Center is in the process of trying to identify who's in the photos, where they are and what they're doing.
    Carnegie Center for the Arts currently has nearly 150 of the photographs on display, including 63 photos in the rotunda for which information is being sought.
    At recent Final Friday celebrations, a dozen of the photos had information provided by people who recognized the people or the locations.
    "My mom and dad were incredible people," Blasi told the Globe in a phone interview Thursday.
    "When there was a blizzard or severe storm or other disaster, dad grabbed his camera, but while he was out there taking photographs, he was also helping people. He would bring stranded people home and mother would feed them. They had such big hearts."
    Her father was the official photographer for Glenn Cooper's drive-in theater, recording the Dodge City visits of many movie and western stars.
    "Dad also made friends with the owners of all the carnivals and circuses that came to town every year and became their official photographer as well," Blasi said.
    Hetzel also loved getting involved with the political candidates and their campaigns.
    "But I think dad's extreme gift was outdoor photography," Blasi said.
    "In fact, he was once flown to Hollywood to shoot photographs of a movie setting, because word had gotten around about the quality of his work."
    Blasi, whose great-grandparents pioneered in early day Dodge City, has fond memories of her father's studio.
    Blasi graduated from Dodge City High School in 1959 and left Dodge City in 1964.
    Her gift to the city of Dodge City is a fitting tribute to her father's life's work.
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