Thomas S. Kleppe, former Mayor of Bismarck, North Dakota Congressman and Secretary of Interior under President Gerald Ford, has died. (Bismarck Tribune obituary here.) We take note of his passing out of a respect for a man who entered public service from the world of business and manufacturing; Kleppe was president of Gold Seal, the Bismarck-based manufacturer of household products (Glass Wax, Mr. Bubble). President Ford named him Interior Secretary after a stint at the Small Business Administration. (Ford’s comments at his swearing-in ceremony here.)
As Secretary of Interior, Kleppe walked a balanced line on environmental issues; his background in manufacturing helped him understand the importance of developing domestic energy resources. (Washington Post obit here.)
Kleppe will receive full presidential level honors at a 1 p.m. March 29 interment at Arlington National Cemetery. Former President George H.W. Bush, who served with Kleppe in Congress, issued a statement to mark his passing. You can read it in the extended section of this entry.
Tom Kleppe and I were elected to Congress on the same day in 1966 and instantly became the best of friends. He went on to serve with great distinction as the secretary of the interior. Tom Kleppe represented the best in public service. He loved North Dakota and he loved his country. To sum it all up, Tom Kleppe was a good man and I loved him.
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