Samuel J. Keker, former executive at U.S. News & World Report, dies

December 17, 2012

Samuel J. Keker, who spent decades with U.S. News & World Report as a business-side manager and retired in 1984 as the newsweekly’s chief executive and chairman, died Dec. 15 of pneumonia at his home in Chevy Chase. He was 95.

His son John Keker confirmed the death.

Mr. Keker joined U.S. News & World Report in 1946 as an assistant to the circulation manager. He became vice president and head of circulation in 1965 and was named chief executive and chairman in 1982.

As top executive for two years, he oversaw not just the magazine but also book publishing, newsletter operations and the company’s real estate interests in Washington. When he retired, the magazine reportedly had a circulation of 2.1 million, compared with Time magazine’s 4.7 million and Newsweek’s 3 million.

The son of Greek immigrants, Samuel Jeremiah Keker was born in Pueblo, Colo., on April 4, 1917. He was a 1939 graduate of American University, where he was a vice president of the student body and wrote for the college paper.


Samuel J. Keker, former chief executive and chairman of U.S. World News and World Report, died Dec. 15 of pneumonia at his home in Chevy Chase. He was 95. (The Washington Post)

During World War II, he served in the Navy and participated in convoy escorts in the Atlantic. He also commanded a minesweeper in the Pacific.

He was called back to active duty during the Korean War and was an executive officer on destroyers. He retired from the Navy Reserve in 1962 at the rank of commander.

His wife, the former Lucy Spinks, served on the Montgomery County school board in the 1960s. Their son John Keker, chief trial prosecutor in the Iran-contra case against Marine Lt. Col. Oliver North, was once named one of the 100 most influential lawyers in the United States by the National Law Journal.

Besides his wife of 71 years, Lucy Keker of Chevy Chase, and their son John of San Francisco, survivors include another son, Jerry Keker of Boulder, Colo.; a sister; two grandsons; and five great-grandchildren.

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