Jim Raftery, American (1915 - 1994)

Jim Raftery

"Racing was his entire life," said Peggy Lester, one of Mr. Raftery's three daughters. "Even outside of the photography, he thought watching a horse run was the most beautiful thing that could be observed."

In his long career, Mr. Raftery's subjects included Grace Kelly, Bob Hope, Winston Churchill, Harry Truman and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor.

His negative files, much of which remain preserved, catalog 50 years of racing from New Jersey to Florida.

And it all started in 1935 when Mr. Raftery, an amateur photographer who owned a cheap camera, found a good camera left by a customer at his concession stand in Miami's old Tropical Park.

The camera went unclaimed in the lost and found bin, and Mr. Raftery, unsuccessful as a jockey in New England and tired of hustling hot dogs in Miami, had the start for his life's calling.

By 1944, Mr. Raftery was the official photographer at Hialeah Park, and his clan eventually became one of racing's first families.

Mr. Raftery, who lived in North Miami Beach, spent this winter rooting on his good 3-year-old colt, Superlative Code, and remained the hands-on leader of his photography business until May 1, 1994. He passed away later in May of 1994.

Biographical Information from Obituary in Sun-Sentinel by Chris Lazzarino May 1994.

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