Bill Walsh, renowned copy editor and ACES Education Fund board member, dies

Bill Walsh, one of the most renowned copy editors in American journalism, died March 15, 2017.

“Bill was a fearless advocate for editing,” said Teresa Schmedding, president of the American Copy Editors Society. “We will miss his brilliance, rapier wit and friendship.”

Bill Walsh, at the ACES 2012 conference in New Orleans.

Bill Walsh, at the ACES 2012 conference in New Orleans.

Bill, a member of the ACES Education Fund board, was a multiplatform editor at the Washington Post, though he often scoffed at the title.

Always a popular presenter at ACES conferences, Bill will leave a palpable hole at ACES 2017 in St. Petersburg later this month.

“Bill was enigmatic and curmudgeonly, but also an extremely funny, caring and helpful human being,” said Merrill Perlman, former ACES Education Fund president.

ACES was able to award Bill one of its highest honors, the Glamann Award, for contributions to the field of editing.

Bill’s boss at The Washington Post, Courtney Rukan, presented Bill with the award on ACES’s behalf on March 10.

The ACES citation states:

“In a world often looking for ever-more-minute elements of style, Bill, you’ve always kept your eye on the elephant – the essentials, the things that really matter.

“In your work as a copy chief at the Washington Post, your many books, your blog and website, ‘The Slot,’ and your many appearances at the ACES annual conference, you have turned your sharp eye on how the language should be used, while never losing your sense of humor about how it IS used.

“Yearly, the sound of laughter has been loud coming from the room in which you were presenting. And, like a good desk chief, your sessions have always met deadline – or, in fact, closed early.

“As the subtitle of one of your books notes, one can be a language snob ‘without being a jerk.’

“Bill, you’ve always aimed to educate without demeaning, to foster appreciation for why things should be done correctly without resorting to pedantry. You’ve always wanted to help those you called ‘journalism’s noble misfits’ – the copy editors who routinely seek your opinion and help.

“The executive board of the American Copy Editors Society is honored to give the 2017 Glamann Award, named for our co-founder, Hank Glamann, to our friend, colleague, and oftentimes inspiration, Bill Walsh.

Bill Walsh shares editing advice at an ACES conference. Walsh's sessions were among the most popular at ACES annual conferences.

Bill Walsh shares editing advice at an ACES conference. Walsh’s sessions were among the most popular at ACES annual conferences.

2 Responses to “Bill Walsh, renowned copy editor and ACES Education Fund board member, dies”

  1. Kate Karp

    Oh, dear, no. I knew he was very ill and I was hoping that he’d go into remission. This morning, for no reason, I put on my Yes, I Could Care Less T-shirt. I’ll wear it all day.

    I know he’ll be remembered at the conference in many ways. Please give my condolences to his wife.

    Reply
  2. Pam Robinson

    Bill was with ACES from the very beginning. It’s fascinating to watch tonight as people pop up with anecdotes about their experiences with him and their respect for him. But all these things, this praise, we’re offering now, and will again in the future? They are things we said among ourselves in the years we knew him, because they’re all true.

    Reply

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