Johnny was a glory from the time we first met at Princeton in 1954 until
the end. He wolfed down the world with an appetite as voracious and
disriminating as the one that drove him to fine food and drink. He made
enemies with apparent gusto, but attracted and held friends over the
decades as few other men could.
That old cliche, "I can't believe he's dead," recovers its full impact
when it comes to Johnny's death. None who ever watched him fill up a
room as he walked in can easily accept that no room will ever be as full
As for his lifetime vocation, I'm glad that we never competed, being a
bad loser,but was happy to see him coming when me and mine were his
subjects. He got the facts, he got the nuances, he got the context and
he got the implications: Then he wrote it all down with inimitable style.
As with so many of his friends, my liver will be the better for his
passing, but my life will forever be diminished. So will print
jornalism, once our shared craft, in this foul season of its growing
malaise. He knew how much it mattered to get it right and get it out,
knew the republic would sicken without a vigorous press and forever
linked what he knew to what he did and how he did it. You knew that as
long as Johnny was around, print had a future.
Many of us feel that our lives have made whole by our wives. No less so
for Johnny, and perhaps quite a bit more. Betsy was forever at his
side in all the ways that mattered, sharing enthusiasms but also
vigorously dissenting when she thought he was off base. They made the
case for marriage.
Ah, Johnny, we knew you well. That's why we hate to see you go.