Priscilla Buckley died quietly this morning, aged 90, at Great Elm, the house in Sharon, Connecticut in which she and her nine siblings, including her younger brother, William F. Buckley, had grown up. When WFB founded National Review, Priscilla agreed to serve for a time as managing editor--as I heard the story, she intended to lend a hand for no more than a few months. She remained in the position for decades.
Kind, warm, poised, meticulous, and a trained professional--she had worked for UPI in Paris--Priscilla, or "Miss Buckley," as she was to the dozens of recent college graduates, including me, whose work she edited--Priscilla proved utterly indispensable, making certain material came in on deadline, demonstrating utter unflappability when egos exploded, and training a couple of generations of what surely must have seemed to her very callow youngsters, who included, to name only a few, Paul Gigot, who now runs the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal, Bill McGurn, who has a weekly column in the Wall Street Journal, the syndicated columnist Mona Charen, and Tony Dolan, my old boss in the Reagan White House and author of the phrase, "evil empire." Although she never married, Priscilla served as a mother to us all. Providing encouragement, offering advice, and remaining in touch--I last heard from her over the holidays, when she included a note in her Christmas card expressing her utter astonishment at having turned 90.
Priscilla's good cheer--her sheer abiding good cheer--is what I find myself, just now, most marveling at. Since first meeting her more than 35 years ago, I must have greeted Priscilla, or heard her greeted, a hundred times: "Priscilla, how are you?" In all those years, I heard her offer only a single reply: "Couldn't be better!"
No, she couldn't have been better.
Priscilla Buckley, requiescat in pace.