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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Wilke's Sandbox

"Watch Wilke," I was instructed on my first day, "You just might learn a thing or two."

Soon enough, Wilke tired of me hanging around his desk. So he took me under his big arm and let me watch up close.

There were periods in the late 90s that I spent more time with Wilke than with just about anyone else - both school hours and after school. He taught me how to work a tentative source, fix a fumbling lead, reel in a scoop, set up a kicker, and circle the wagons on a clear win.

He was direct: tough when he needed to knock me for slacking or sharp when he cut through my sloppy copy. Above all, he was kind when he slapped down a compliment: "Now you've nailed it, Guidera."

That Wilke would do that for a 25-year-old wire hack, speaks volumes for his heart. Over time I realized, his warmth was genuine.

The newsroom is no place to find friends. Want friends? Get a sandbox. The best reporters are always tight lipped. But there was one secret Wilke was always willing to share if you stuck around long enough into the night: life's really just one big sandbox, grab a shovel and jump

To Nancy, Robin & Jackson: thanks for sharing. It was always hard giving him back after our play dates... Man, do I miss Wilke's sandbox.

Jerry Guidera

1 comment:

  1. Well said Jerry, Wilke always was quick to include us wire guys in his posse, and his commitment to his work was among the most outstanding I saw in 14 years of being in newsrooms.