News

Longtime F.C. Resident Walter Wurfel Dies at 81

Falls Church resident Walter W. Wurfel died suddenly on Nov. 29, 2018, at The Kensington of Falls Church, where he moved in early 2017. He was 81.

During his career, Mr. Wurfel 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), among other positions. As a journalist, he served as foreign editor and political editor of The St. Petersburg Times (1972-74); covered Fairfax County for The Washington Evening Star (1962-64), worked as a reporter and later as managing editor for the Northern Virginia Sun, as well as  newspapers and broadcast outlets 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.

After moving to Falls Church in 2004, Mr. Wurfel served on the Citizens’ Advisory Committee on Transportation and the Falls Church Democratic Committee. As a member of the League of Women Voters of Falls Church,  he helped monitor City Council meetings and prepared paella dinners for their silent auctions. He played trombone for many years with the NOVA Band at Northern Virginia Community College’s Alexandria campus and in the Falls Church City Concert Band; he participated in that band’s tour of England in the summer of 2006.

Mr. Wurfel was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in early 2005, but continued to pursue many of his interests, including sailing, travel and ham radio.

He is survived by his wife, Sara Fitzgerald, sons Ted and Steve, daughters-in-law Missy and Gina, and grandchildren Jack, Sam and Lucy.

A memorial service and reception will be held Saturday Dec. 22 at 1 p.m. at Rock Spring Church, 5010 Little Falls Road, Arlington, VA 22046. In lieu of flowers, donations in Walt’s memory can be made to the Parkinson’s Foundation of the National Capital Area, the Carter Center, the Columbia University School of Journalism or the Rock Spring Congregational Church Endowment Fund.