John E. Kieffer, 80, the founder and former headmaster of Harker Preparatory School in Potomac and a retired colonel in the Air Force Reserve, died of cardiac arrhythmia July 27 at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda.

Col. Kieffer and his wife founded Harker, now a coeducational secondary school, in 1963. He was headmaster until 1984, when he retired. Earlier in his career, he had been a university teacher, an Army infantryman in North Africa and Europe during World War II, an Air Force officer on the faculty of the National War College and a registered agent for the government of Cuba before the Castro revolution.

A resident of Potomac, Col. Kieffer was born in Buffalo. He graduated from Johns Hopkins University, where he also received a master's degree in public health. He received a doctorate in international law from the University of Paris.

Before World War II, he taught at Ohio State University. During the war, he took part in the Allied landings in North Africa in 1942 and later served in Europe. For part of the time he was assigned to Free French forces. His decorations included the Soldier's Medal, three awards of the Bronze Star, the Army Commendation Medal and the Purple Heart. France conferred on him the Legion of Honor and the Croix de Guerre.

After the war, Col. Kieffer taught at the University of Alabama and Tulane University. In 1950, by then an Air Force Reserve officer, he moved to Washington to join the faculty of the National War College. He taught there until retiring in 1958.

Col. Kieffer then established Universal Research and Consultants, Inc., a consulting firm that he ran until starting Harker. He also taught international relations at Georgetown University. The clients of his consulting business included the government of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista, of which it was a registered representative in Washington.

Col. Kieffer's survivors include his wife, Marie K. Kieffer of Potomac; three children, John E. Kieffer Jr. of Columbus, Ohio, Christopher R. Kieffer of Potomac and Maryanna L. Kieffer of Washington; six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

WILLIAM R. NICHOLS SR.

House Painter

William Relmond Nichols Sr., 83, a retired Washington house painter, died of pneumonia July 26 at the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home in Charlotte Hall, Md. He had cancer.

Mr. Nichols, who had lived at Charlotte Hall since 1988, was a native of North Carolina. He joined the Marine Corps in 1923 and served until 1927, when he came to Washington.

Over the next 16 years, he worked here as a chauffeur, an ambulance attendant and a fuel pump attendant at the Washington Navy Yard.

During World War II, he reenlisted in the Marine Corps. After the war, he worked as a house painter here until he retired in the mid-1970s.

His marriages to Rose Alice Anderson Nichols and to Katharine Irene Nichols ended in divorce.

Survivors include three children from his second marriage, William Relmond Nichols Jr. of Rockledge, Fla., Joseph Cleveland Nichols Sr. of Rockville and Marianne Nichols Ordway of Frederick, Md.; 10 grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.