Terry Teachout was writing for the Kansas City Star when he first corresponded with WFB; he had got in some jam for ideological reasons, and WFB was acting as the cavalry to help him out. Wearing a hat as one of WFB’s amanuenses, I handled the correspondence. Soon thereafter Terry came to New York himself. We had lunch at the Guardsman, a bar that was then around the corner from our 35th Street offices (if you had fought at Imjin River you got a free drink). Neither of us was eligible for the free drink, but I got something infinitely more precious and more copious, a first glimpse of Terry’s mind and personality.
He specialized in omniscience. There was a bit of boy-from-Sikeston-keeping-up-with-the-city-slickers in that. But the main source of his appetite to taste, learn, and enjoy was his love of all the arts, and of the wonderful sparks cast off by human minds generally. One story he told me was characteristic: When he was first taken to a movie theater as a little boy, he was so excited that he ran up and down the aisles until his parents had to take him out. Well, I told him, you’ve learned to stay in your seat, but you haven’t lost that excitement.
So much for his profession — he wrote on cultural matters for everybody, most recently as theater critic for the Wall Street Journal, generalist for Commentary, and occasional reviewer for NR. More important, Terry’s many, many friends knew him, all of them, as among the best friends each of us had. He was patient, sympathetic, understanding, warm, wise. Many was the time when I needed a listening ear and a cool head, and I turned to him. Some of my fondest memories are the times I made him laugh out loud. That wasn’t hard, though I once made him fall out of his chair (unfortunately, the joke cannot be repeated).
Terry died Thursday, at age 65. The muses weep. I certainly do.