Austin Kiplinger, Journalist, Publisher, Philanthropist: 1918 to 2015


Austin Huntington Kiplinger—journalist, publisher as well as civic and cultural leader—died of cancer at the age of 97 on Nov. 20 in Rockville, Maryland.

A journalist since his college days at Cornell University, Kiplinger worked at newspapers, magazines, newsletters, radio and television between the 1930s and the 1980s. He ran the family business, founded in 1920 by his father W. M. Kiplinger, Kiplinger Washington Editors, Inc., for almost 35 years. Today, his son Knight Kiplinger heads up the family-owned group which publishes “The Kiplinger Letter, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine, The Kiplinger Tax Letter, Kiplinger.com and other publications on personal finance and business forecasting,” according to the company.

Well known around the nation’s capital for his philanthropy and civil leadership, Kiplinger was born in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 19, 1918. He is best known in Georgetown for his devotion to Tudor Place Historic House and Garden on 31st Street and as a graduate of Western High School, now the Duke Ellington School for the Arts.

Tudor Place, where Kiplinger served as trustee and president and was known as “Kip,” issued this statement on Nov. 23: “His passing leaves a void among lovers of D.C. history. His enthusiasm for preservation and gleanings from our shared past will be sorely missed.”

“Working with him for 15 years, I found him to be gracious, ebullient and generous in sharing his love for the history he knew so well of this city and of Tudor Place,” said Leslie Buhler, Tudor Place Executive Director until October 2015. “He connected the past to the present in very real terms,” she added, praising his “extraordinary memory, sparkle in his eyes, and thirst for knowledge.”

According to Kiplinger Washington Editors, “Kiplinger served in governance leadership at Cornell University, the National Symphony Orchestra, Historical Society of Washington, Federal City Council, WETA, National Press Foundation, Tudor Place, Washington International Horse Show, and other local institutions. He was the longtime president of the Kiplinger Foundation, a charitable trust established and funded by his father which has made grants totaling many millions of dollars to nonprofits in education, the performing arts, history and mid-career journalism training.”

“Among his notable civic achievements in Washington was spearheading, with co-chair and former D.C. mayor Walter Washington, the 2000 capital campaign that restored the District of Columbia’s historic Carnegie Library on Mount Vernon Square to be the new home of the Historical Society of Washington,” wrote Kiplinger Washington Editors. “In 2012 Austin and his son Knight donated to the Historical Society and several other Washington museums the 5,000-piece Kiplinger Washington Collection, a corporate collection started by W. M. Kiplinger in the 1920s that grew to be the largest assemblage of historical prints, maps, photos and paintings of Washington, D.C. in private hands.”

Kiplinger was a U.S. Navy aviator in the Pacific Theater during World War II. He was the oldest and remains the longest-serving member of the Society of Professional Journalists.

His wife Mary Louise “Gogo” Cobb Kiplinger died in 2007. His older son, Todd Kiplinger, died in 2008. He is survived by his son Knight and daughter-in-law Ann Miller Kiplinger, of Washington, D.C.; daughter-in-law Dana Stifel Kiplinger, of Weston, Connecticut; six grandchildren; seven great-grandchildren; and his companion of seven years, Bonnie Barker Nicholson, of Bethesda, Maryland.

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