I had the privilege of knowing John Wilke for more than 26 years, working with him both at Business Week and the Wall Street Journal and maintaining a friendship despite often being separated by long distances.
We first met as fellow students at the
That was vintage Wilke – ahead of the curve on everything. I was green around the gills; Wilke already had a sheaf of solid clips, from the NY Times and elsewhere.
I've never met anybody as relentlessly curious about everything. He was the consummate news hound. He carried around a sheaf of newspapers, and was always pulling out stories he really admired. He lived for the story, whether it was government secrets, Congressional wrongdoing, or the latest office gossip.
At one late-night sushi dinner in
"Going out, or out out" ever after became an inside joke about our evening plans, whenever we managed to find time together.
A bit of a perfectionist, John had certain pet bugaboos – people misusing the term "champing at the bit" was one. I remember him once reflexively correcting a top official for saying "chomping at the bit" during a post-press conference scrum, then berating himself for hours afterward. "I didn't really correct him, did I?" he'd say in a half whisper.
When I moved to
Then, and on many evenings since, the evening often came to a screeching halt when John, half apologetic, finally made his third call of the night to Nancy, assuring her that this time he really was on his way home. "I have to ensure domestic tranquility," he'd announce, donning his brown leather bomber jacket before heading off into the night.
I will miss him every day.