W. M. KIPLINGER: PUBLISHER OF THE KIPLINGER LETTERS 1891-1967
By Austin H. Kiplinger, President of the Kiplinger Editors
M. Kiplinger's association with Unitarianism began during
his college years at Ohio State University in 1908-1912. As
a standard product of Midwestern Methodism, he had attended
Sunday school as a boy and learned the customary catechism
of the times. In later life, he delighted in regaling listeners
with the words of old hymns like "Brighten the Corner
Where You Are" and "Washed in the Blood of the Lamb."
His own views began
to form in an atmosphere of educational liberalism in which
many young students found themselves during the Woodrow Wilson
political era. These were given a framework by his association
with a fellow student, Irene Austin, who later became Mrs.
W. M. Kiplinger. Her father, Judge James Austin of Toledo,
Ohio, was an active member of the First Unitarian Church of
Toledo and along with his friend, Judge Henry Crittenden,
was a member of the lay board of the congregation. Judge Austin
had, in turn, been influenced toward Unitarian thinking by
his father, James Austin, Sr., of Woonsocket, Rhode Island.
When James Austin, Sr., first arrived in New England in 1854,
the liberal movement throughout Europe had been opposed by
the established order and James Austin found himself blacklisted
for work throughout the mill country of Lancashire, England,
where he had been a superintendent in Padiham, north of Liverpool.
Because he espoused such radical views as the 10-hour workday
law and universal education, he ran afoul of mill owners who
did not take well to the idea that working men should be taught
to read and write. Mr. Austin left the country and migrated
to Rhode Island, where he became a civic activist and outspoken
participant in town meetings. Though this may seem remote
from W. M. Kiplinger, it illustrates the origin of some of
his Unitarian roots, inherited from his wife's grandfather.
After moving to Washington in 1916, Mr. and Mrs. Kiplinger
attended All Souls Unitarian Church (which, by the way, was
also the home congregation of the Chief Justice, former President
William Howard Taft). In the early 1950s, when a new congregation
was being formed in Bethesda, Md., the Kiplingers became friends
with John Baker, minister of the new group and together with
others in the community, became founding members of the Cedar
Lane Unitarian Church, which now occupies an important role
in the neighborhood adjoining the National Institutes of Health
and Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. Through Mr. Kiplinger's
interest in gardening, the new church created a surround of
azaleas on the adjoining grounds. (One wall of the building
is constructed of Seneca red sandstonethe same stone
that was used to build the original "castle" of
the Smithsonian Institution on the National Mall in Washington.
The Kiplingers remained members of Cedar Lane until W. M.
Kiplinger's death in 1967.
2001, W. M. Kiplinger's son, Austin Kiplinger, honored
his father's memory with an endowment grant for a
program in ethics at the Cedar Lane Church, and the
program was inaugurated with a lecture by the noted
philosopher, Dr. Amitai Etzione, of George Washington
To: All Members
From: Austin Kiplinger
Ten years ago this
week, W. M. Kiplinger died, ending a career that spanned more
than 50 years in Washington. During his time, he saw the federal
government grow from a modest referee into a central figure
in economic decisionmaking. And during this time, W M. K.
(or "Km" as he was usually known) was himself exerting
tremendous influence on the way in which Washington was being
reported. His working style had a major impact on his profession,
and today the Letters and Magazine are living monuments to
his talent, his foresight and his determination.
In these times, when Washington's position in the world is
taken for granted, it is worth noting that W. M. Kiplinger
was one of the first widely read writers to discuss the effects
of national government on the economy in terms that people
could understand. He let his readers know what Washington
would mean to them in down-to-earth ways. He led the pack,
and in so doing, he started an editorial trend that has been
followed by thousands of other reporters and publications.
W. M. K. once wrote that glamor and spectacle "make illusions,
and however pleasant illusions may be, they do not pay. Far
better," he said, "is understanding." This
is what he focused on. When he wrote, he always had someone
in mind. His writing and reporting were intensely personal
and this personal feeling was infused into the organization
he founded. Today, ten years after his departure from the
professional scene, the best way we can honor him is to take
our work as seriously as he took his, and keep his personal
spirit alive in what we do.
August 9, 1977
W. M. Kiplinger, 76, founder of the Kiplinger Letters and
Changing Times magazine, died of a heart attack yesterday
at his home, 6609 River Rd., Bethesda. Long a force in Washinghn
journalism, Kipas he was known to friends and associates
prided himself upon being "a reporter's reporter.
"Twenty years ago, the Saturday Evening Post estimated
that he was "the best paid and most influential reporter
in the world; also the most independent. "An aggressively
unostentatious man who shunned Washington society life, Mr.
Kiplinger covered the Nation's Capital for about 50 years
as an Associated Press reporter, a business correspondent
and an editor. But the distinguishing mark of his career was
his penchant for writing Washington news in a breezy, staccato
style that the folks back home understood.
Born Willard Monroe Kiplinger in Bellefontaine, Ohio, he edited
his high school newspaper and became one of the first two
journalism graduates of Ohio State University. In those days,
he once recalled, "The idea of a college-trained journalist
was preposterous and presumptuous ... It cost us both six
months to establish the confidence of our fellow reporters."
He joined the Ohio State Journal as a cub reporter
and covered the Columbus flood of 1913. In a horse and buggy,
he drove across town in hub-deep water to get the names of
the more than 100 flood victims. He came to Washington as
an AP correspondent and had such memorable assignments as
walking in the rain with Woodrow Wilson the night he was nominated
for the presidency, flattering his way into the District Jail
to get an exclusive interview with suffragettes locked up
for parading without a permit and scooping the town with the
complete list of the newly appointed state directors of the
War Savings Drive.
Mr. Kiplinger left
AP in 1919 to become correspondent for the National Bank of
Comnerce of New York. As such, fe established a query service
to answer questions of clients about what was happening in
Washington. One evening in September, 1923, he decided to
send all his clients a letter, a supplemental summary of Washinghn
news. This.was the first Kiplinger Washington Letter, which
has since remained in continuous weekly publication. Like
the other letters he eventually published, such as the Kiplinger
Tax Letter and the Kiplinger Agriculture Letter, the Washington
Letter is colloquial in style, with "flag words'' underscored
and a controversial amount of prophetic opinion. It was Mr.
Kiplinger's exerience that "men in public life would
often give you the straight story in private, then reverse
their field in their pro forma public statements."
Never Quote Source
accordingly, have never quoted a source and have abounded
in off-the record-comments indicating trends. He published
details of the Marshall Plan four months before it was publicly
announced. Having pioneered in supplying businessmen with
news, interpretation and judgment on economics and politics,
Mr Kiplinger decided to give families parallel information
on the economics of day-to-day living. In 1947 he inaugurated
the monthly magazine, Changing Times [now entitled
Kiplinger's Personal Fiannce Magazine], which now has
well over one million circulation. It is unique in the publishing
world in its ability to make a profit without advertising
and without ever having increased its subscription price.
The organization Mr. Kiplinger built went into the book publishing
business and its first five best sellers include three written
by the boss himself, the most notable being his detailed and
colorful account of political Washington, Washington
Is Like That."
Played Dominant Role
Mr. Kiplinger played
a dominant role in educational television in Washington from
its beginning in 1952. It was largely through his efforts
that Channel 26 received liberal foundation and local business
support. His most recent major interest was the Washinton
Journalism Center [now a part of the National Press Foundation],
a nonprofit institution he helped found in 1965 to advance
the study of national and international news reporting and
editing. Mr. Kiplinger is survived his wife, LaVerne ; a son,
Austin H. Kiplinger, who now is president and publisher of
the firm; two daughters, Mrs. John P. Wilson of Dallas and
Mrs. F. E. Bonnie McNamara of Bethesda, and six grandchildren.
The Washington Post, August 7, 1967
Comments added by A. H. Kiplinger 11/27/01
by Sam Hughes
John Baker of the Cedar Lane Unitarian Church
Kiplinger, known to all as Kip, took time off from his work
on the Kiplinger Letter to be a major source of advice
and funds in the early formative years of the church. John
Baker and all the early board chairs found him willing and
able to give sound advice and to help with perplexing early
problems. He did this without a fanfare or taking over. Because
of his innate modesty and desire for anonymity, his total
financial and intellectual contribution to the construction
of the church building and initial work on the grounds will
never be known, but it was very substantial. For example,
as the church was nearing completion Kip quietly assigned
the gardener from his River Road estate to the selection and
planting of a large number of azaleas on the less formal part
of the church grounds. Many of these are still thriving and
providing pleasure to church members, particularly every spring.
Beyond this he was always reachable and available at times
of financial or construction crises with sound advice and
money to meet or help meet the situation.
His wife LaVerne was as interested and active in the early
church as was Kip. She was an advisor to the teenage youth,
organizing trips and lending support with energy, understanding
and money. For years she was the informal chair of the "collection
counters." Together, the Kiplingers were major contributors
to the establishment and early development of the church.
Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church; The First Fifty
Years, published in 2001 by the Cedar Lane UU Church
Lecture Series Established
Cedar Lane UU Church in Bethesda MD
May of 2001, Austin Kiplinger committed the Kiplinger Foundation
to providing a grant of $50,000 to endow a lecture series
on ethics in the name of his father, Willard. The Kiplinger
organization, founded in 1920, offers personal finance and
business forecasting guidance to millions of Americans. The
organization provides information in many formats: business
letters, magazines, books, software, videotapes, audio tapes,
syndicated newspaper columns and the Internet.
2001 The Kiplinger Letter, first published in 1923,
was the most widely circulated business outlook letter in
America. The Kiplinger Tax Letter, also published since
the 1920s, was America's most widely read tax advisory service.
Because of this gift the church was able to make plans for
the first Kiplinger lecture, to be given October 27,2001,
with sociologist Amitai Etzioni as the speaker. Amitai Etzioni
is a University Professor at George Washington University
and founder and first president of the Communitarian Network.
Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church; The First Fifty
Years, published in 2001 by the Cedar Lane UU Church
Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church:
The First Fifty Years, (Bethesda, MD: Cedar Lane Unitarian
Universalist Church, 2001).
Why I Believe in Advancing Unitarianism by
W. M. Kiplinger
liberals have often been accused of being smug, self-satisfied
and lazy. It has been charged that they are conscious
of the advantages of their own spritual freedom but that
they do not bother to explain and extend this freedom
to others. Unfortunately there is much truth in the charges.
Among Unitarians, though, there is a new movement of aggressiveness
in religious liberalism. It is not merely for a church,
but for a causethe cause of freedom in relations
between men and God, and between men and men. Full freedom
has been hampered through the ages by sets of rules, doctrines,
The movement known as Unitarian Advance represents an
effort to tear down the barriers between religious groups,
to clear away the clutter in religious thinking and to
bring spiritual air and sunshine. This movement seeks
to emphasize that religious freedom comes direct from
God, is not restricted to certain channels and is available
to all people, not merely to groups of people as bounded
by doctrinal fences.