William Raspberry, Honorable Man

by Ed Chinn

When I met Bill Raspberry in 1988, he was already very influential as a nationally syndicated Washington Post columnist. I was new in town, completely unknown, and worked for the conservative Family Research Council.

New to — and overwhelmed by — the DC swamp, I found myself floundering in a very precarious situation. In desperation, I called him and asked for help. Like a good reporter, Bill fired questions at me. After getting the details, he said, “Come on over; let’s have lunch.”

I found a treasure that day. Despite the large chasm between our politics, realms of influence, and very diverse points of identity, Bill gave me precisely what I needed. Furthermore, he became a guide, mentor, and friend. That friendship lasted 24 years, right up to his death this week.

Although he leaned left, he was very independent. And though he was passionate, relentlessly curious, and intellectually rigorous, I never saw him angry, in public or in private. He was a man of classic and timeless values. And he was the wisest and most honest man I ever met in Washington. 

Bill Raspberry embodies for me one description of character: helping those whom you do not need. I could not help or hurt him, but he gave very generously of himself. He interviewed me — an unknown and a conservative — for three or four columns. He is a large reason I found acceptance as a writer.

The Apostle Paul told us to “have regard for what is honorable, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.” If conservatives cherish the matrix of values that produce an honorable society, then we should stand at the passing of an immensely honorable man.

We are forever ennobled because William Raspberry walked through our time and space. All rise.

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