I never worked with John- I mean Wilke (no one, except maybe his wife Nancy, called him John.) But I'm proud to say I was his friend for almost 15 years.
Wilke was the nicest man I have ever met. Usually, when you hear something like that at a funeral or memorial, you think to yourself, yeah right! But, in his case, it is absolutely true. I never heard him say a bad word about anyone-anyone we knew anyway. He did sometimes have some choice words for genuinely corrupt politicians, or others he may have written, or talked about. But he never badmouthed anyone in our large circle of friends, even when some of us deserved to be badmouthed.
That's just who he was. He was the kind of friend you always looked forward to seeing, and whose word you could always trust. Always cheerful, and incredibly optimistic, cynicism seemed something he was incapable of. We could all stand to be a little like John Wilke. I curse the world that took him away from us so prematurely, and my heart is filled with sadness for Nancy, the kids, and all of us who will never see him, or his like, again.