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The Baltimore Sun

CHARLES TASNADI, 82 News service photographer

Charles Tasnadi, who braved minefields and barbed wire to escape communist Hungary and went on to spend three decades as a top Associated Press photographer, died yesterday in Washington after suffering a stroke.

Mr. Tasnadi was born Karoly Tasnadi in Ajka, Hungary.

During his career, Mr. Tasnadi covered seven presidents, including a return to his native land aboard Air Force One, accompanying President George H.W. Bush.

Mr. Bush called him into a forward cabin before landing and told him it was fitting that this was how he should return home for the first time.

On the ground, Mr. Tasnadi hid his emotions behind the camera, determined to get good pictures, colleagues recalled.

He also traveled to Cuba more than 40 times, gaining access to Fidel Castro and other leaders. A former editor credited Mr. Tasnadi with helping pave the way for AP journalists to return to Cuba.

His dangerous escape from Hungary in 1951, Mr. Tasnadi later remarked, "really helped me put a better perspective on deadline pressure."

Mr. Tasnadi later recalled crawling across a minefield during his escape, making sure to place his knees and elbows in the same spots as the man ahead of him.

He retired in 1996, and while photographing his last White House news conference, President Bill Clinton started a round of applause, thanking him for years of service.

"Charlie was a graceful photographer, a generous colleague and a complete gentleman. The arc of his life tracked the sweep of world history in the 20th century, yet he will be remembered most for a thousand daily kindnesses," said Kathleen Carroll, AP senior vice president.

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