Early in his decades-long career as a photographer, Les Broadstreet of Marion took photos of sainthood candidate Father Emil Kapaun at his ordination and in his U.S. Army uniform before Kapaun was deployed to the Korean War, where he died in a prisoner of war camp.
Broadstreet has designed a collage featuring his photos of Kapaun and photos of Kapaun in Korea as his final photography project. Last week Broadstreet turned over distribution of the collages to Holy Family Catholic Parish. The church is preparing to sell copies of the collage mounted for easy framing as a fundraiser for the Father Kapaun Building Fund, which helps pay for improvements to St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church in Pilsen.
The full collage is a relatively recent project, but its origins came about 60 years ago.
“When news came that Father Kapaun had died a martyr in Korea, I wrote Bishop Mark K. Carroll and told him that I had an idea for a mural that might memorialize so great a hero,” Broadstreet said.
The bishop took his suggestion and assembled a trio of pictures of Kapaun in Korea: celebrating Mass with soldiers, helping a wounded soldier from the battlefield, and listening to artillery explosions. Broadstreet incorporated that trio into his collage.
“I’ve placed it (the collage) in good hands,” Broadstreet said Thursday.
For more information or to order a collage, call Holy Family Catholic Parish at (620) 382-3369.
As a high school senior in 1936, Broadstreet’s career prospects were slim, primarily working on a rock pile for the Works Progress Administration. But when he picked up his senior pictures from E.A. Lewis of Hillsboro, who he knew a little bit from church, Lewis asked him if he would like to become a photographer.
“I thought that sounded much better than the rock pile,” Broadstreet said. “Anything would be better than that.”
Lewis had just bought a photography studio in Marion, and he wanted Broadstreet to run it, despite Broadstreet only doing amateur photography before that.
Broadstreet soon learned information that caused him to end his association with Lewis, though he did take over Lewis’ debt on the Marion studio: $100.
He sought out photography training by riding with his wife’s uncle to Chicago, where he got a recommendation from the manager of an Eastman Kodak store manager to Professional Photographers of America School in Indiana for a three-week course on developing and printing photographs and the basics of photography.
“Then I come home and hung out my shingle,” he said.
The saving grace of his new photography business was a law Kansas passed requiring truck drivers to have their photo on their license. Charging for those portraits helped Broadstreet get his business on a solid footing for decades of photography.