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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Secret source

I met Wilke in 1999 when my husband Neil King and I returned from Europe to work in the WSJ Washington bureau. That office must have been one of the most congenial in journalism -- we colleagues were unusually close and supportive, and still are. Looking back, of course, it was the sunset of the glory days, before buyouts took our mentors and the "private sector," as we called the real world beyond print journalism, claimed the more practical among us.

One of the people who made the bureau a special place was Wilke. He was like a great thoroughbred who could win at any distance, who entered our profession and succeeded in it for all the right reasons. His social gifts were similarly vast. He was warm and generous and open to new people, and he hated to miss gatherings of any kind. But he also was a champion gossip who knew how to collect and distribute information to maximum effect.

I always felt a special connection with Wilke because we were both raised in progressive religious households. It's the sort of upbringing that is hard to explain to the uninitiated, and neither of us talked much about it. But I could see its footprints all over my friend.

Which brings me to my favorite Wilke story. Earlier this year, I was contemplating an opportunity -- a pretty cool opportunity -- to leave journalism for the "private sector." Hardly anyone knew about this -- or so I thought. One day, as I mulled my fate, Wilke emailed. At this point his situation was pretty bleak. But he was still working it, and somehow he had learned my secret. Stay put, ride out the storm, stay true to this calling of ours, he urged me. But as hard as I tried, I could not get him to reveal his source.

- Shailagh Murray

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