Claire J. Schweiker, ‘Romper Room’ hostess, wife of U.S. politician

May 21, 2013

Claire J. Schweiker, 81, a former hostess of the children’s television show “Romper Room” in Philadelphia and the wife of former secretary of health and human services Richard S. Schweiker, died April 28 of respiratory failure at Inova Loudoun Hospital in Leesburg. She was a McLean resident.

The death was confirmed by a daughter, Kyle Hard.

From 1954 to 1956, Mrs. Schweiker played the character “Miss Claire” on the popular children’s program “Romper Room” and was considered one of the hostesses of the show.

Her husband, a Republican, was a former U.S. representative and senator from Pennsylvania who later served as secretary of health and human services in the Reagan administration.

After leaving “Romper Room,” Mrs. Schweiker gave speeches on public service, health and faith until the early 1990s.

Claire Joan Coleman, a Philadelphia native, was valedictorian of her high school class and a 1953 radio and TV broadcasting graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia. She moved to the Washington region after her husband was elected to the House in 1960.

Mrs. Schweiker was the first recipient of Temple University’s Alumni in the Media award and was a member of the school’s hall of fame. She was a former president of the District’s Republican Wives Club and past vice chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation Ball. Her memberships included the International Club of Washington, the Senate Wives Club and the Senate Ladies Red Cross Unit.

Survivors include her husband of 57 years, of McLean; five children, Malcolm Schweiker of Oak Hill, Va., Lani Shelton of Herndon, Kyle Hard of Fairfax County, Richard Schweiker Jr. of Richmond and Kristi Carey of Napa, Calif.; a sister; and 23 grandchildren.

— Megan McDonough