Mar 3, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Ken Duberstein, Reagan chief of staff, dies at 77

Mike Allen
Ken Duberstein, then the new White House chief of staff, in his West Wing office in 1988. Photo: Dirck Halstead/Getty Images

Kenneth M. Duberstein — final White House chief of staff to President Ronald Reagan and one of Washington's most connected people — died Wednesday at 77, his wife, Jackie Fain Duberstein, tells me.

  • Ken had been ill and retired recently from his firm, The Duberstein Group, which will continue with his younger partners. He died at Sibley Memorial Hospital in D.C.

Duberstein, a consultant to "The West Wing," was a gregarious presence at Washington parties, in network greenrooms and in New York boardrooms — forever beloved by the press for all the leaking he did during the Reagan years.

  • When he and Jackie were married in 2003, the officiant was Supreme Court Justice David Souter. Duberstein had been the sherpa for Souter's confirmation. The music? Marvin Hamlisch.
  • I was always struck by the fact that he loved being Ken Duberstein. When I told Jackie that last night, she said: "He did!"

Under Reagan, Duberstein also was deputy chief of staff and was head of legislative affairs. He had been Boeing's longest-serving lead director, had been on other corporate boards, including Travelers, and was a leader at Harvard's Institute of Politics.

Kenneth Marc Duberstein was born in Brooklyn on April 21, 1944. He is survived by four children — Jennifer, Andy, Jeffrey and Samantha.

With a flair her husband would relish, Jackie Fain Duberstein plans a funeral at Washington Hebrew Congregation, with elder statesmen as speakers.

  • "If you don't grab the moment," she told me, "you lose the moment."

Go deeper: Read his bio ... Backstory

Editor's note: This story has been updated with the name of his fourth child.

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