I first met John when I was competing against him on the antitrust beat -- he at the WSJ and me at Bloomberg. Mutual respect for each other's work led us to be friends. During the Microsoft antitrust trial, John and I instituted an outing every Thursday night (no trial on Friday) that from the first week became widely attended by attorneys for both sides, PR folks and reporters. We took this responsibility very seriously, even "researching" numerous locations as part of planning for the next week's festivities. He spent so much time during that trial at McCormick & Schmick's on K Street, that we all started calling it "the law firm."
It was John (with the support of Bryan Gruley) who convinced the WSJ editors to take a chance on a wire reporter. As the WSJ lagged on making an offer, John began ringing folks up to make sure they knew the San Jose Merc had flown me out there for a job interview; I had an offer the day I returned to DC. John had that kind of clout.
It was truly something to have the professional respect of John Wilke, an absolutely dogged reporter who loved to win. But to have his friendship, now that was something amazing. We'd take walks around the corner during the day, buy some decadent dark chocolate and discuss life. He was a great listener, and a great storyteller. We'd drink good wine, we'd drink bad wine. He was usually the first person to notice when Morton's across from the office had put the tables back on its deck each spring; inevitably 15 or so of us would be out there by mid-afternoon.
He loved his family and he'd frequently bring his kids to my parties. They are engaging, smart and hilarious, just like their dad. Nancy was generous enough to share her husband with those of us who sought his counsel and his warm conversation over libations. Yes, there almost always were libations.
John was a contradiction of sorts. He was an absolutely relentless reporter who struck fear in the hearts of those he wrote about. But he was also the sweetest guy, never saying a bad word about anyone, always looking for the bright side.
I recalled this weekend how John, who occasionally wore this Inspector Gadget khaki raincoat like a G-man, would tell sources he'd be "going dark" next week or the next few days. Usually he'd be taking a vacation or going to a ball game in Boston. But it always made us laugh thinking that someday we'd find out John had been undercover for the CIA as a kick-ass reporter.
Perhaps now John has finally gone dark, so to speak. But the gift of his life -- and memories created -- will brighten the world for many years to come.
Anne Marie Squeo
Anne Marie Squeo