Arthur E. F. Wiese Jr., a former journalist and longtime National Press Foundation board member, died April 21. He was 69.
A Texas native, Wiese had almost a 50-year career in public affairs, communications and journalism, most of it in Washington.
Among his many philanthropic activities was the National Press Foundation. He served on the board of directors for 20 years and was instrumental during its startup years.
“Art Wiese was a loyal and dedicated board member of the National Press Foundation for many years,” said NPF President Emeritus Bob Meyers. “He co-chaired our fundraising dinner with Sheila Tate, former press secretary to first lady Nancy Reagan, and led the reorganization of the NPF board structure. He helped raise NPF’s profile in the Washington business and public affairs communities. He was a trustworthy advisor to the foundation and always had its best interests at heart.”
On NPF’s behalf, Wiese once asked the late banker and media mogul Joe Allbritton for $10,000. Allbritton refused, instead making a contribution of $100,000 and making his private plane available for NPF fundraising.
Journalist Frank Aukofer said, “Arthur Wiese was a tireless and relentless board member and advocate for the NPF in its early years. He was among a few who raised money and worked to develop programs that eventually transformed the foundation from a small outpost to its current status as an influential, independent organization that fosters excellence in journalism.”
Wiese spent 17 years a journalist, where his articles in The Houston Post helped defeat two statewide elected officials, Land Commissioner Jerry Sadler and Comptroller Robert Calvert, in the early 1970s. He also covered the Sharpstown banking scandal in 1971-72 that resulted in the conviction of the speaker and majority leader of the Texas House of Representatives on bribery conspiracy charges.
Wiese was promoted to Washington bureau chief for the newspaper in 1973 at the age of 27 and subsequently covered the White House under Presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan; three presidential campaigns; and stories on four continents. As a reporter, he won nine national and regional reporting awards for stories as varied as the aftermath of the Battle of Hue in the Vietnam War, the struggle for ownership of sunken treasure from a Spanish galleon found off the coast of Texas, and – during the national bicentennial year of 1976 – the modern problems of major sites of the American Revolution.
In 1979, Wiese served as president of the National Press Club in Washington – the youngest president, at age 32, in that organization’s then 71-year history.
Wiese left journalism in 1982 for the American Petroleum Institute. In 2000, Wiese joined Entergy Corp., a major utility and nuclear power company, as vice president for corporate communications. He maintained offices both in New Orleans, the corporation’s headquarters city, and Washington.
Wiese belonged for 34 years to Washington’s Gridiron Club and his booming tenor regularly graced its musical spoofs of national politicians. He also was active in many professional, civic and charitable causes. Wiese estimated he had raised more than $4 million for journalism professional organizations alone.
“Art mentored scores of Washington journalists, including me. His years in journalism and public relations gave him an insider’s knowledge of both fields,” said Sandy K. Johnson, NPF president and COO. “He had a heart of gold, and a singing voice as smooth as velvet.”
Wiese had been disabled and bedridden since Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012, when he suffered a brain aneurysm, later followed by strokes and infections.
Survivors include his wife of 49 years, Nanette A. Wiese of Mount Vernon, Va.; a daughter, Kimberly S. Dahmani of Alexandria, Va.; and a brother, Larry C. Wiese of Chappell Hill, Texas.
A funeral Mass will be said at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Alexandria, Va., with details to come.
Our thanks to Frank Aukofer, who wrote most of this account of Art’s life.