Longtime National Review managing editor and confidante to the late William F. Buckley Jr., Priscilla Buckley, died at age 90 last weekend. NR friends and family pay tribute (and see more from Rick Brookhiser, Jack Fowler, and Mona Charen.)
Priscilla Buckley, as many people have already remarked, was a great lady. She was also a tough broad. And in that nexus lies her strongly individual character as a serious professional journalist who was a very feminine woman in an often bitterly feminist age.
Unlike her Smith College classmate Betty Friedan, she worked very well with men, whether they were hierarchically her superiors, her equals, or her subordinates. (She also, unlike some women who work well with men, worked very well with women, whether hierarchically ditto or not.)
And she also, like another great lady of her generation, Margaret Thatcher, did it with a very traditional tenue. Priscilla wore pants for skiing and hunting and golf, but she never wore them to the office: wool suits in the winter, cotton dresses in the summer. She could have passed for a Park Avenue matron, with her carefully coiffed hair dyed that slightly bluish grey (her hair had gone grey in her thirties) and her carefully manicured fingernails. But those fingers beat a mean tattoo on, first, her old Royal, and then a succession of computers.
In her years as managing editor, she ran a tight ship, but also a very happy one. I remember our food writer, Nika Hazelton, coming in one day to have lunch with Priscilla, and arriving just as laughter was breaking out in three different corners of the editorial department. Nika drew herself up to her full height and declaimed, “Priscilla, what is this unseemly hilarity? When do your people ever get any work done?” But we did. She would never have permitted anything else.
Priscilla Buckley (Pitts) was, indeed, one of nature’s noblewomen. A truly magnificent example of one of Our Lord’s finer creations — brilliant, kind, gentle, warm, adventurous, and athletic (a scratch golfer), with a marvelous sense of humor that emanated from a constant smile and a pair of crystal blue eyes. She loved to laugh. My long tenure at NR enabled me to enjoy her company more than most, and whenever you were in her company you enjoyed it. Her editing skills were legendary, as evidenced by the list of people she taught, many of whom ply the trade she taught them in the nation’s major newspapers, magazines, and electronic media. She will be deeply missed by all who knew her and by many who knew of her. We can take consolation in that our great loss is offset by heaven’s great gain, where I know she will be praying for us.
— Ed Capano is the former publisher of National Review.