RIP Bill Walsh

I am so sad that Bill Walsh died today. I share my sorrow with the copy-editing community nationwide.  No one deserves Bill’s fate, but it seems especially cruel for him. He was a man who clearly enjoyed life and had a lot more to do.

My heart goes out to Jacqueline and the rest of Bill’s family.

I met Bill at the inaugural conference of the American Copy Editors Society in 1997. That was before he became a copy-editing icon.

Over the years, I had contact with Bill mostly through ACES and exchanges related to our respective editing websites. In 2000, Bill hired me at the Washington Post, for which I am immeasurably grateful.

Bill and I were never close friends. Our extracurricular pursuits were mostly at odds and our social circles did not intersect. But I had enormous respect for him not only as the author of three pretty good books about editing, but also for running a copy desk like it should be run (for example, Bill wouldn’t bat an eyelash if I took two hours to edit a story). We had opposite temperaments, and I’m sure mine wasn’t easy to accommodate.

He wrote one of the most artful evaluations in human-resources history. He called me “unique,” and delicately explained away my eccentricities.

Bill Walsh belongs alongside Theodore Bernstein in the copy-editing Hall of Fame (which doesn’t exist, but should). It was an honor to work with and for him. He made me a better editor.




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Very well said, Phil! Christopher Cruise spread the word on ACES, where I’ve been a member. A sad irony, but entirely fitting, that he received the ACES award only five days before he died. He left a durable legacy, but he was taken from all of us far too soon.

Bill Walsh had left The Washington Times before I arrived in 1998, but I connected with him occasionally on The Slot. I heard he wrote “Lapsing Into a Comma” when he was the copy desk chief at TWT. I have a copy of that book and “Elephants of Style.” The least I can do is remember him and his enduring contribution to the craft of copy editing — and keep his books nearby.



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