William F. Buckley passed away this morning at his home in Stamford, Connecticut. He was 82. He was found at his desk, and probably passed from this world working on a column. He went out bearing his standard.
I met him once. He was the guest of honor at the Mortar Board breakfast at Wichita State University in January 1986, and as a Dean's List student, I was invited. A lot of my friends were stunned that I was going to attend with all those College Republican business majors.
If you read this blog, you know I consider myself a pale imitation of my fire-breathing Democrat grandmother. She was the Democratic half of a mixed marriage. My grandfather, who grew up in town with electricity, was a belt-and-suspenders, common sense, business Republican. From the time I could read, I was thumbing through their magazines. Grandma read The Nation and Harper's. Grandpa read the National Review. I read them all, and at times I agreed with Buckley.
Today, I am thinking about that day 22 years ago when Carol Konek quite literally grabbed me as I was about to slip out the door, and physically drug me up to the front of the room to meet him, and told him about my interesting family background. He asked me at the end of the exchange why I had embraced my grandmothers political philosophy instead of my grandfather's conservatism. Without hesitation I blurted out "Well, for starters, I have nothing to conserve," and he laughed out loud.
Today, as I wish a fond farewell to William F. Buckley, I am grateful for that exchange and that I got to see a twinkle in his eye, and know that I put it there.
Godspeed, Bill. And thanks, Carol.