Let's capture some of why we loved Wilke so much. As one friend of his put it:

"...write up an anecdote – some story where they watched Wilke build up into righteous anger when reporting a story... or ironing out a crease in the fabric of the Journal bureau... And someone should talk about him tearing up when he described taking his kid to college…..Or when he became nearly inconsolable when the anthrax story came back and cost him two fantastic seats at the Nats-Mets game. Describe a time he filled in for people, picked up their loads for them, counseled them, slipped them incredible sources, shared bylines... that will keep him alive and you (and the rest of us) afloat."

Post comments or photos here.


An appreciation

I met John when I was the new public affairs flack at the Federal Trade Commission and he was the dean of the antitrust reporters in Washington. He scared the living daylights out of me as he often knew more of what was happening in the Bureau of Competition than many people who worked there, including me. I learned a ton from him about how the agency worked, how reporters saw the work of the agency, and how reporters worked. It helped me do my job better, then and now.

On the Hill, an adversarial relationship between flack and writer was generally the rule. Wilke challenged my preconception of that, showing me how to arm wrestle over a story without being disagreeable. He was completely decent and honest in pursuing his work, and no one who knew him ever doubted his intelligence or integrity.

Later on, after leaving the government, when our relationship became more personal than professional, I learned quite a bit from him about more important subjects, like navigating family life and its challenges and how to be a better friend.

Optimism is "an inclination to put the most favorable construction upon actions and events or to anticipate the best possible outcome." The dictionary should put Wilke's WSJ hedcut next to that definition. No doubt, sometimes that optimism was unmitigated bullshit in the face of imminent disaster, particularly during the last seven months.

But John fundamentally believed in the essential goodness and resilience not only of his business, but of an open society where no one should have a monopoly on trade, power, or the truth.

Apart from his family and his work, that optimism was his true legacy. He got many of us to drink from that cup. It wasn't kool-aid, I'm fairly sure. I hope he was right.

Eric London

1 comment:

  1. Thank you Eric for giving those who loved my brother John a place to gather and remember and laugh thru tears. John would approve. (But then he'd wonder what all the fuss was about, and buy another round!)