Serving West Michigan Since 1899

Jim DePree

December 23, 2020
Chicago, IL



Thursday, July 1, 2021
11:00 AM EDT
Pilgrim Home Cemetery
370 E 16th St
Holland, MI 49423
(616) 355-1300

Life Story / Obituary


Nationally award-winning photographer and real estate entrepreneur James (Jim) Anderson DePree of Chicago passed away comfortably due to ongoing health issues on December 23rd 2020. He is survived by his wife Lilly DePree of Chicago and two sons Matthew and Eric DePree of Chicago, his sister Suzanne DePree of Ashfield, North Carolina, and brother Kenneth DePree of the Dominican Republic, as well as many nieces and nephews. Jim was preceded in death by his parents Kenneth and Margret DePree of Holland, Michigan, and his brother Thomas O. DePree also of Holland, Michigan.

Jim was born April 15th 1946 in Fremont, Ohio to Arthur and Helen Lambright Anderson. Due to his mother’s death during childbirth, he was adopted and raised by his aunt, Margret Anderson DePree in Holland, Michigan. From a young age, Jim’s talent and passion for photography emerged and as a teenager he landed a job as a crime scene photographer for the Holland Police Department and the Holland Sentinel newspaper, before graduating from Holland High School in 1964. He graduated from Grand Valley State University in1968 before moving to Jackson, Michigan, to be a newspaper reporter. There he built his photography portfolio and spent many weekends capturing images at the Michigan International Speedway. In 1971 Jim moved to Chicago to be a photographer for the Chicago Today newspaper, as well as picking up many other photojournalist assignments for The Chicago Sun-Times, The Daily News, and The Chicago Tribune. A lover of action, Jim always had his police scanner on and found himself at many demonstrations, fires, and chaotic events all over the Chicagoland area. He also enjoyed covering all of Chicago’s sports teams in his free time, especially the White Sox.

Jim also traveled the United States photographing stories for Newsweek and People Magazine where he met many celebrities and covered extraordinary events. While in Louisville, Kentucky, covering the racial injustices of the bus boycotts, the KKK followed Jim home one night and, as a warning, opened gunfire on his parked car.

Internationally, his photography career took him to many distant locations and most notably Cambodia where he covered the ongoing genocide and humanitarian crisis. Jim was not intimidated by fear and felt an obligation to cover the events of the world, even if it meant putting himself in harm’s way. Jim’s photographs were frequently found on the front page of many newspapers, the covers of TIME magazine, and were published in several books. His photo “Death Was the Extra Man on the Field” won the highly respected National Headliner Award for photography.

Jim’s photography career eventually came to an end as he transitioned into real estate full time, but he never lost his passion for the excitement of breaking news. In 1979 Jim met his wife Lilly whom he married in 1981. Together they have two children Matthew and Eric and in 1988 they relocated to the northern suburbs of Chicago. Jim took great pride in raising them and helping both achieve their Eagle Scout Awards.

Jim loved to work. He was never afraid to get dirty or put in a great amount of effort. His work ethic transcended into his daily life and even after beating stage four throat cancer Jim went back to work continuing to renovate apartment buildings as well as extensively remodeling two homes. In 2015 he suffered a stroke which forced him to retire from business and slow down. Jim was a lover of antiques, classic cars, stained glass windows, and vintage light fixtures. He also enjoyed spending time at his cottage in Michigan. Those who knew Jim loved hearing the incredible stories of his amazing life adventures and he will be missed.

A graveside service will take place on Thursday, July 1st 2021 at 11:00am at Pilgrim Home Cemetery in Holland.