NIH Record - National Institutes of Health

Retired NEI Administrative Officer Napper Mourned

Churchman Louis Napper Sr.
NEI retiree Churchman Louis Napper Sr., died May 24.

NEI retiree Churchman Louis Napper Sr., died May 24. He began his career at NIH in 1963 as a heart and lung technician. He had served from 1957 to 1961 as a medical technician in the U.S. Army. He worked as senior administrative duty officer at the Clinical Center before being appointed the first African-American administrative officer at NEI in 1970. Napper was instrumental in planning NIH’s Combined Federal Campaign effort in 1975, when NEI served as the lead institute.

“I first met Mr. Napper in 1967 when I began work at NIH,” recalled Joan Lee, a retired former EEO manager at NEI. “In 1970, Mr. Napper, the administrative officer NEI-IR, hired me for the position of secretary to the clinical director…In this position, [he] became my advisor and my mentor. Under his leadership, my career, as well as [the careers of] others, flourished...Mr. Churchman Napper, in my judgment, was an administrative genius. He was instrumental in encouraging teamwork—so important in the intramural area. [He] was stern, but also compassionate and funny. He had high expectations for his staff members and provided the resources and support to enable each of us to reach our fullest potential. I am fortunate to have had Mr. Napper in my professional life.  (Any wonder why I continually refer to ‘Mr. Napper’ rather then Lou), this is the respect he earned and deserved.”

An NIH Record photo features four employees, including Napper, standing around a podium holding a brochure. Above the photo is a headline that reads, "'Giving -An American Tradition' is theme; NIH Launches Drive to Surpass CFC Goal."
Napper is shown in a 1975 NIH Record photo.

In 1978, Napper received an NIH Director’s Award “in recognition of ingenuity, perseverance and dedication in establishing the best possible environment for the conduct of clinical vision research.” 

He retired in 1992 after more than 30 years of federal service.

Survivors include his wife of more than 63 years, Annette, a son, daughter, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The NIH Record

The NIH Record, founded in 1949, is the biweekly newsletter for employees of the National Institutes of Health.

Published 25 times each year, it comes out on payday Fridays.

Assistant Editor: Eric Bock (link sends e-mail)

Staff Writer: Amber Snyder (link sends e-mail)