Walter Wurfel, a longtime journalist and Washington public relations executive, died suddenly on November 29, 2018, in Falls Church, VA. He was 81.
During his career, Walt served as deputy White House press secretary to President Jimmy Carter (1977-79); senior vice president/communications of the National Association of Broadcasters (1986-97), vice president/corporate communications of Gannett Co., Inc. (1979-84); press secretary to Democratic Sen. Richard Stone of Florida (1975-76); press secretary to the presidential primary campaign of Democratic Sen. Hubert Humphrey of Minnesota (1972); president/Washington, of the Ruder Finn and Rotman public relations firm; foreign editor and political editor of The St. Petersburg Times (1972-74); and as a reporter for The Washington Evening Star (1962-64). He served in the Africa Bureau of the U.S. Agency for International Development and worked for other media companies in Puerto Rico, New York City and California. He served on the boards of the National Press Foundation and the Arlington Symphony. An Eagle Scout, he served on the Boy Scouts’ National Public Relations Advisory Committee (1979-83). He also chaired the Communications Advisory Committee of the national American Red Cross. Walt also co-owned Mobjack Sailing Camp in Mathews, VA, Laurel Ridge Golf Course in Palmyra, VA, and WXGM-FM radio in Gloucester, VA.
Despite a diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease in 2005, Walt continued to enjoy many pursuits, including international travel. He was a ham radio operator (W4ZPQ) and a talented trombonist. He was a longtime member of the NOVA Band at Northern Virginia Community College’s Alexandria campus, the Falls Church City Band, the Rock Spring Winded Ensemble and other brass groups. He sailed his last boat, “Second Wind,” up the Intra-Coastal Waterway and to Long Island Sound and back. He was an active volunteer with presidential and statewide Democratic campaigns and at Rock Spring Congregational United Church of Christ.
He is survived by his wife, Sara Fitzgerald, sons Ted and Steve, daughters-in-law Missy and Gina, and grandchildren Jack, Sam and Lucy.