Our profession lost a leading light on March 15 with the passing of Bill Walsh. Bill was a Washington Post copyeditor, a board member here at Copyediting and at the American Copy Editors Society (ACES), and an author of three classic books on usage and language. He was also an active and gregarious member of our professional community, known for the warm welcome he extended to newcomers (including this writer) and for the spelling bee he gleefully instituted as an annual ACES conference tradition. He was, as his friend and colleague Merrill Perlman put it, “enigmatic and curmudgeonly, but also an extremely funny, caring, and helpful human being.”
Bill was diagnosed with bile-duct and liver cancer in 2016; he and his wife Jacqueline Dupree reacted by living life to the fullest, traveling to Ireland, to Detroit, and to New York to see Hamilton on Broadway.
Bill joined the board of this newsletter in 2006, back when it was called Copy Editor. When then-editor Wendalyn Nichols proposed changing the name to Copyediting, Bill backed the decision but, says Nichols, “wrote a dissenting opinion about the spelling, as was fitting for the man some dubbed the Hyphenator: when I told him it didn’t make sense to me that he’d accepted proofreader for one who edits proofs but not copyeditor for one who edits copy, he wrote that he couldn’t help seeing it as the ‘yediting of cops.’”
This year, five days before his death, the ACES board awarded Bill its Glamann Award for lifetime achievement in the craft and profession of copyediting. The announcement brought the entire ACES conference to its feet with applause and tears; the crowd raised more than $8,000 (which DuPree announced she will match) to establish a Bill Walsh Scholarship Fund.
Bill Walsh was committed not only to the English language but to the education and well-being of writers and editors. He was also, as Nichols puts it, “perhaps the last man on the planet to hyphenate attributive compounds as in high-school senior.” We at Copyediting will never forget him. We extend our deepest condolences to his wife and family.
Watch the Copyediting blog for announcement of how you can partner with Copyediting to contribute to the Bill Walsh Scholarship Fund. Or make a contribution now using the ACES Contribution Form.