Jesse Alexander – The Santa Barbara Independent


Jesse Alexander, 92, a photographer who documented the golden age of motorsport, died in Santa Barbara on December 14, 2021. He was comfortable and at home with his beloved wife Nancy by his side holding his hand.

Jesse was born on April 15, 1929 in Santa Barbara to Florence Louise Lyman and Junius Beverly Alexander. Jesse grew up in Montecito, where he attended Howard School, then attended boarding school in Massachusetts in Fessenden and then Pomfret, Connecticut. Jesse returned to California for college at UCSB, where he studied photography and met his first wife.

They moved to Europe with the first of their four daughters, where Jesse documented the international motorsport scene as a photojournalist from the late 1950s to the early 1970s, and the players were one of his closest friends. His images capture the danger and the glamorous spectacle on the track and define the sport for a generation of fans.

Jesse’s ability to show the human component of motorsport made his images more than just a record of exciting events and elegant machines, but evocative visual art as well. His photographs have been published in countless publications and are now hanging in the homes of collectors, galleries and museums.

For all his professional success and worldwide recognition, Jesse loved being a “happy snapper” who documented the everyday beauty of life in his hometown of Santa Barbara. Jesse’s kindness, grateful spirit, and constant amazement will live on in the hearts of all who knew him. And the legacy of his empathetic eye is shared by everyone he has reached but never met.

Jesse leaves behind his 56-year-old wife, Nancy Alexander, and their son, Jess. And his first wife, Patricia Beckham, and their daughters Rori, Heidi, Andi and Susie. Together with nieces and nephews, his many grandchildren and finally the first great-grandson.


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