The longtime editor of Reader’s Digest has died. He helped make one of America’s great magazines great — the pages of the Digest once were full of conservative values and lively reporting. He was a sharp writer, too. A couple of weeks ago, as I researched a topic I’m about to write on for National Review, I came across one of his stories and immediately was jealous: The introduction and conclusion were so good, I wish I had written them. I even complained about it to a press secretary who was driving me around: How am I going to top that? I grumbled.
I also knew Ken as a friend. When the College Fix was just a fledgling idea, he was eager to help out, getting to know a number of the young writers we recruited, giving them advice and encouragement. He gained nothing from this, except perhaps the reward of knowing he was doing a good thing.
The last time I saw Ken, he invited me to visit his farm in Virginia. I didn’t take him up on the offer, figuring there was no rush. Now it’s a reminder: Don’t let what’s urgent get in the way of what’s important.