Austin Kiplinger, journalist and longtime head of financial publishing company, dies at 97

WASHINGTON – Austin Kiplinger, the longtime chairman and editor-in-chief of a financial publishing company that bore his name, has died, his son said. He was 97.

Kiplinger died Friday at a hospice in Rockville, Maryland, where he was treated briefly after receiving hospice care at home, said his son, Knight Kiplinger. The cause of death was brain cancer, most likely a melanoma that had spread to his brain, his son said.

A prominent figure in Washington journalism and civic life, Kiplinger led the publishing company founded by his father for nearly 35 years. Before taking over Kiplinger Washington Editors Inc., he worked as a newspaper, radio and television reporter. The company publishes newsletters and magazines on personal finance and business.

The company was founded in 1920 by his father, W.M. Kiplinger. Austin Kiplinger took it over upon his father’s death in 1967. Even after circumstances forced him to become a businessman, he remained a journalist at heart, his son said.

“He wrote, he edited, he conducted the weekly lead meetings for the Kiplinger Letter,” Knight Kiplinger, who took over for his father in the 1990s, said Saturday. “That’s our tradition going back to our founding.”

Kiplinger’s professional journalism career began at age 18 while a student at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. He worked as the campus stringer for the Ithaca Journal, and some of his articles were picked up by The Associated Press.

He served in the Navy during World War II, piloting torpedo bombers off aircraft carriers in the South Pacific.

In 1947, he and his father founded what is now called Kiplinger’s Personal Finance, the first publication dedicated to personal-finance advice for American families. In the 1950s, he worked for several television stations in Chicago and for ABC News there. But he turned down an offer to join NBC News in New York to return to the family business.

Kiplinger was a trustee and board chairman of the National Symphony Orchestra, and he presided over a family foundation that has made millions of dollars in grants to nonprofits education, performing arts, history and journalism training. He lived for decades on a family farm in Seneca, Maryland.

“He was best known for his exuberance, his positive attitude, his interest in people from every walk of life,” his son said. “He talked as easily with a carpenter or the janitor in the building as he did with presidents and senators.”

His wife of 63 years, Mary Louise Cobb Kiplinger, died in 2007, and his older son, Todd, died the following year.


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