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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Our Man John Wilke

As next-door neighbors beginning in 1995, John and Nancy had our key, but they’d knock anyway. I always teased him that a slow, aging print guy couldn’t possibly hang with us fast-throughput television and Internet types—especially as we subscribed to the NY Times and Wash Post and avoided the WSJ. And we actually called him John; he called me “Dawg” or “Dude” and Jessica “Girl.” Instead of borrowing a cup or two of cooking materials, he was invariably in search of the powerful tonic of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead, usually from the early Seventies, from my downstairs vault (or our DirecTV feed of a Red Sox game).

We’d repair to the grilling area, with Generous John frequently foisting a prime piece of meat upon us and assuming the grill control position, pick out an appropriate high-hopped ale, accompanying music, and converse. The ongoing poolside discourse that has occurred since we moved three miles from the Wilkes back in 2000 will continue but it will lack the sublime yet forceful guidance of John’s insights. He demurred to those with more strident opinions yet betrayed more wisdom behind his words for those with perceptive intellects, from fellow travelers to the occasional nattering nabob of negativism.

Saturday night the Dead played their final concert at the Philadelphia Spectrum, including the elegiac “He’s Gone,” originally penned in 1972. John Wilke was hot as a pistol but cool inside. We miss him dearly.

Tim and Jessica and Jordan Rockwood

4019 Byrd Road

Kensington, MD 20895

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