There were a few things I always wanted to “catch” from Mike Potemra – who was a fellow alum of The Catholic University of America and in the office next door to me more than once over the last 20 years.
(1) His ability to read books quickly – someone will remember the enormous count of books he got rid of when he moved from Washington to Washington Heights (I think it was), his most significant move before California.
(2) His efficiency and proficiency at editing, particularly late at night. I recall him helping proofread many a column during many NRO years and my own, before I sent it into my syndicate in the wee hours, for many years. I remember him helping his dear friends at The Human Life Review. And I remember he gave Kate O’Beirne’s book a helpful proof — and she was far from the first or last book author who asked him to take a look.
(He also had an incredible ability to get his e-mail inbox down to zero, or at least as close to zero as possible. He didn’t want to leave things undone.)
(3) His fearlessness in calling someone up and asking them to lunch. As in: Hello, I just read your book, let’s talk about it. Is there anything more an author would love to hear? Pure music from Heaven for most! I think he must have gone to lunch with more people in a year than I have in a lifetime, and from all religions and none and all political persuasions. And not because he was impressed with “important” people but because he was genuinely curious. I’m forever assuming everyone else doesn’t have time, because I’m forever thinking I don’t have time. We make time. And when we don’t, we’re missing some of the best of life.
Our day comes and most of us don’t know when…but today is a sad shocker here. I am grateful I got to see him at one of our Bill Buckley tribute events (he enjoyed doing WFB impressions, too) just before Easter.
Among other things, Mike was always a reminder that God makes us each uniquely. May our God he was always seeking be good to him.