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."

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You could always tell John loved reporting because he never stopped gathering information. He probably worked that cellphone in his dreams, cajoling bits and pieces of a story out of sources.

On our chance weekday Metro encounters to or from Bethesda and on weekends in the Y parking lot, John was constantly probing.

He was always trying to figure what I knew or didn't know (probably, mostly, the latter) about a particular antitrust story we were both pursuing.

Generous with friendship, gossip and praise for other people's work. Wilke was interested in all kinds of subjects and people that he would probably never write about. It was part of his MO to keep his fingers constantly on the pulse of the news, listening for that tremor of an undisclosed event or outrage that he could turn into another great scoop.

A minister's son, Wilke had the classic irreverent manner of a preacher's kid, having honed his rakish, smart-assed wit from childhood to avoid any label of saintliness.

He could never quite pull it off. Because if saintliness is a measure of how much someone gives of themselves in kindness, love, camaraderie and sheer decency then Wilke couldn't elude the tag.

Jim Rowley

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