Local Commentary

Editorial: We Recall Al Eisele

We pause to recognize the passing at an assisted living facility in Falls Church on June 29 of the highly accomplished journalist, newspaper founder and former vice presidential press secretary Albert Eisele, at age 85.

Eisele was a long-time City of Falls Church resident. As one who was clearly born “with printer’s ink his veins,” he often stepped aside from his role as an engaged D.C. insider to bless this Little City and the News-Press with frequent commentaries and letters to the editor over many years, especially since the passing of his wife of 53 years and fellow scribe, the former Moira Conway, in 2016.

In an extensive obituary by Emily Langer published in the July 10 Washington Post, which focused on Eisele as a major player in the D.C. political scene, Eisele was quoted about the role of journalism, saying upon his retirement from The Hill newspaper that he founded, “Journalism is still about people, more than it is about process and policy. In Washington, it is about the interaction about how people vie for power, seek power, misuse power, accumulate power and sometimes lose power and the reluctant letting go of power.”

Eisele was born and raised in rural southwest Minnesota, and there was something about that printer’s ink coursing in his veins that led away from the farm to a different career, as he recounted in his loving memoir about his parents, entitled, “Northern Lights, Southern Nights, A Memoir of Writing Parents.” He worked for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and came to Washington working for the Ridder newspaper chain in 1965. He later served as the press secretary for Vice President Walter Mondale in the late 1970s. In the 1990s he helped start The Hill newspaper which remains a “must read” for everyone on Capitol Hill.

While a fixture at “watering holes” in D.C., Eisele frequently attended events hosted by the News-Press in Falls Church, including at a celebration of the paper’s 1,000th edition a decade ago and at many holiday parties and summer mixers. He also contributed his considerable writing skills, with commentaries about the passing of Mondale’s wife, Joan, and another storied nationally prominent journalist who was a City resident, the late Herb Kaplow, among others.

The family cat, Sasha, was featured as a Critter Corner star and in a letter to the editor published in the News-Press, he chastised his “friend,” our editor, for a commentary in 2016 he felt was a bit too harsh about his Catholic Church. Our editor has said that in 30 years publishing his own newspaper, it was the only time he’d been willing to openly concur with such a criticism.

“One of the things I am proudest of is the fact that we sent so many talented young reporters on to bigger and better things,” Eisele said upon his retirement from The Hill. He is survived by daughters Kitty and Anne.