RIP Bill Walsh
by Phillip Blanchard
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.