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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John's College Days

John was certainly my best friend at New College when I started there in 1978.  I spent a year as housemates with him and Nancy on a little street in Sarasota.  John already had the ever-presentable look with the khakis and the blue shirts and all: he seems to have sprung, a fully-formed reporter, from the brow of Zeus.  As to that, I was there when John got his first reporting job, I think it was the Sarasota Herald but I may not be remembering the name.  I celebrated with him when he published his first story (Nancy probably remembers this): it was about a neighbor's goat chewing on the corner of someone's house.  The "goat story," we referred to it ever after.  Then, the editor obviously being no fool, John became the police beat reporter.  He had a tiny Vespa and an old black helmet that looked like one of those old football helmets, and he's motor around Sarasota in the helmet and his glasses and jacket, with his briefcase balanced on his knees. He was quite a sight!  I remember one evening he rode it out to a notorious bar to report on a stabbing, and he described to me interviewing gum-chewing prostitutes as they stood around the blood on the floor, and the smear of blood still on the bartender's shoulder.  He knew where he was going.  He had his folder of "clips" before he even applied to Columbia Journalism School.  He was a born news junkie, and that was a big part of our friendship: sitting in the diner first thing in the morning going over the paper, talking about, say, the budget battle in Washington.  I'm sure everyone reading this knew that intense way that he would focus on you when he was talking to you.  He was like that in his early twenties: like I said, a reporter out of the egg.  Later on in the 80s we were both in Boston, he working in the newsroom of the Globe and me at Widener Library.  I went downtown a couple of times to visit him there.  Of course he was buddies with the Jamaican rasta man who was an office messenger there.

John used to talk about his father, who was a very successful man despite being physically handicapped.  I have a feeling that John's righteous sense of wanting to do good came from him.  Certainly John's great political and social motivation was already all the way there by the time he got to college.  John also used to mention his brother who was a physicist: a "nuclear swizzlestick," John would jokingly call him, but I could see how proud he was of him.  He mentioned them both a lot back in those days.

Of course John loved to party (that was the other big part of the friendship!).  Once at a big party there was a tub of "jungle juice," liquored-up fruit punch, and someone threw a fire cracker or somethinjg into it.  Nothing happened and John bent over the tub to look just as it exploded, singing off most of his eyebrows.  We gave him a pretty hard time about that one, getting blown up at the party!  John had a lot of external reserve and a lot of inner passion, and I think his love of politics and his love of a good party were both reflections of that.  He was a people person, all the way.

In recent years John was one of my "samizdat" e-mail friends, we'd forward all kinds of stuff to each other.  I'd get an e-mail that just said "Spam me!"  I'd always be surprised to realize how active he was, for example during that whole Nevada politics story - it seemed like he'd been paying so much attention to our correspondence, you would have thought he was bored.  Speaking of that, he loved it when someone would denounce him personally - that was a big trophy, as far as he was concerned.  I've been trying to confirm that he was mentioned by Gates during congressional testimony, somewhere I got the idea that he was. 

Well, Nancy, I haven't seen you in a long, long time, but you're certainly in my thoughts today.  This news is out on facebook and I can tell you that a lot of people are thinking of you and the your kids and holding you all in the light.  I'd love to hear from you, agrbrown at 

God bless you always, Anderson Brown

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