Jay W. Gildner, 73, who served with the U.S. Information Agency for 28 years before retiring in 1983 as deputy associate director for educational and cultural exchanges, died of cardiovascular failure Jan. 14 at Sibley Memorial Hospital. He lived in Chevy Chase.
He began his USIA career in 1955 as an information officer at the American Embassy in West Germany. In 1960, he opened the agency's first Canadian branch post, in Toronto. In 1961 he was posted to the White House as an assistant press secretary for liaison work with the foreign press.
Among his White House duties was serving as press officer for First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy's visits to Pakistan, Italy and Britain, and a visit to Berlin by Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson. In 1962, he became chief news policy officer and was a liaison between the White House and the USIA's International Press Service and to the Voice of America.
Mr. Gildner was a public affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in Israel from 1965 to 1968, and then he served until 1971 as counselor of embassy for public affairs in Iran. From 1971 to 1975, he as an assistant USIA director for European operations. From 1976 to 1980, he directed USIA operations in India.
Mr. Gildner, who was born in Mason City, Iowa, was an Army Air Forces veteran of World War II. He was a 1949 magna cum laude graduate of the University of Minnesota, where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and was a member of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity.
He was the recipient of USIA's Superior and Meritorious Honor awards, as well as an award from Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. He was a member of the Cosmos Club, the American Foreign Service Association and Diplomatic and Consular Officers Retired. In retirement, Mr. Gildner had done volunteer work for organizations in the areas of the environment, international education and foreign affairs.
Survivors include his wife of 50 years, Beverly Eriksen Gildner of Chevy Chase; three sons, Gray M., of Fairfax Station, Hunt W., of Apple Valley, Minn., and Page W., of Chevy Chase; a brother; a sister; and five grandchildren.