Bill Walsh, the noted Washington Post copy editor and author of several books, died earlier this month of cancer at age 55. It’s a heartbreaking loss for his friends and family, and for the craft of editing.
I had the good fortune to meet Bill via ACES, the Society for Editing. We had shared interests in journalism, tennis and ’80s bands such as Aztec Camera. It was always a pleasure to spend time with him and to attend his wise and witty presentations at ACES conferences.
When thinking of Bill, I recall one ACES conference in particular. It was in New Orleans in 2012.
I was chatting with a journalism student at the post-conference reception at a bar in the French Quarter. Bill was nearby. The student mentioned how she had attended Bill’s session at the conference and how she’d like to meet him.
But she was nervous. Would Bill Walsh, one of the stars of the conference, be willing to talk with a college student attending an ACES conference for the first time? I assured her that yes, he would be happy to, and I introduced them. Bill greeted the student as he would a close friend or trusted colleague. I stepped away to give them time to talk one on one.
That moment was a prime example of the open and inviting atmosphere of ACES conferences. It doesn’t matter whether you are a novice or a doyen. We are all editors who can learn from each other.
Now, ACES has established a scholarship in Bill’s name. It is intended for a student interested in a career in editing news. Bill’s wife, Jacqueline Dupree, is generously matching initial donations to the scholarship fund.
I hope that you will consider donating as I have. It’s a significant way to keep the memory of Bill Walsh alive for many years to come.