I got to know Wilke by working on anti-earmark corruption stuff when I worked in D.C. He was the best of the best. One particular story came to mind that I think captures everything that we all loved about him.
I was driving into work one morning and my cell phone rang a few times, but I couldn’t answer it because there were cops everywhere and I didn’t want to get a ticket. Anyhow, I drove into my lot at work and I saw Keith Ashdown and Wilke standing on the corner. They were apparently waiting for me. The funniest part is that they were both trying not to be noticed. Wilke actually thought he could hide behind one of the fence posts. They flagged me down and both hopped into my car, Wilke in the back and Keith in the front.
Wilke tells me to park facing a restaurant and to turn my car off. I of course obey. At that point, Keith busts out a handheld video camera. A few minutes later, a bunch of politicians and power brokers walk out of the restaurant, and Wilke yells, “That’s them! That’s them!” Unbeknownst to me, Wilke had been planning that little sting for some time. The way he giggled as he watched the footage a few minutes later was like a little kid on Christmas morning. He had this infectious enthusiasm for uncovering the truth.
Wilke was one of a kind. He was an insanely hard worker, but he never lost sight of the important things: his family, his friends, and baseball. When I am able to go to another baseball game, I’m going to order a beer and a gigantic bag of peanuts and fondly remember our good friend.