William Kloepfer Jr., former RAL president

January 11, 2013
William Kloepfer Jr.

William Kloepfer Jr., 89, of Dewey Beach and Chevy Chase, Md., passed away Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013. Kloepfer had a long and varied career in Washington, D.C. public relations and was very active in the Rehoboth Art League, where he served two terms as president in the early 2000s.

Born in Evanston, Ill., June 14, 1923, he attended Eureka College in Eureka, Ill. before serving in the U.S. Army during World War II in the China-Burma-India theater. After the war, Kloepfer earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from Northwestern University, graduating in 1949. He first went to work as a reporter on the Athens, Texas, Daily Review before moving to Washington, D.C. to cover the Congress for the now-defunct Washington Times-Herald. In 1951, he became night news editor of the National Broadcasting Company in Washington, D.C., leaving to join the Republican National Committee, where he served as assistant to the director of public relations from 1952-55.

Bill Kloepfer went on to work for U.S. Rep. Laurence Curtis, R. Mass., in the 84th Congress. He was then hired by the Civil Aeronautics Board to serve as chief, Office of Congressional Liaison and Public Information from August 1956 to 1959. It was during that time that he married Nancy Lee Kloepfer, formerly Henninger, who had been his college sweetheart. Nancy predeceased him in February 2008.

After the Civil Aeronautics Board, which was the early predecessor to the Federal Aviation Administration, Kloepfer handled public relations for the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association until 1967, when he took on the daunting task of overseeing public releations at the Tobacco Institute as their vice president. A highlight of his 21-year career there was serving as consultant on the extensive restoration of the diplomatic reception rooms at the U.S. Department of State, which was funded in part by the major tobacco companies.

Bill first started visiting Rehoboth from Washington, D.C. in the early 1950s, before there was a Chesapeake Bay Bridge to make the trip an easy one. He and Nancy bought a summer house in Dewey Beach in 1969 to enjoy with their two daughters. They retired there in 1988, making the Delaware address their primary residence.

Kloepfer served for a while on the Dewey Beach zoning commission and became a competent potter in the studios of the Rehoboth Art League. The league’s board of directors elected him their president in August 2001. According to his daughter, Joan, Bill Kloepfer often said that despite his long career as a high-profile lobbyist in Washington, he was most proud of his post-retirement accomplishments at the RAL.

He is survived by that daughter, Joan H. Kloepfer, of Washington, D.C., by his other daughter, Lisa K. Osburn, of Keystone, Colo., and by his younger brother, David J. Kloepfer, of Louisville, Colo.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 29, at Chevy Chase House, 5420 Connecticut Ave., NW, in Washington D.C.

Friends may wish to visit In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Rehoboth Art League or 302-227-8408.