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May 2009


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

D.C. Wall Street Journal Investigative Reporter John Wilke Passes Away

John Wilke/facebook

John Wilke

By Allan Lengel
WASHINGTON – John Wilke, kick-ass investigative reporter, kick-ass friend, kick-ass human being, may not have been one of a kind, but certainly the last of a kind in an industry going through some radical changes.

A dogged investigative reporter for the Wall Street Journal in Washington, he talked endlessly on the phone to sources,  he jumped on planes, he drove thousands of miles, all to track down stories, to expose crooked members in Congress and corporate America. Those in federal law enforcement  knew him to be an honorable person.

Wilke, 54, was the journalist we all hoped to be. Forever enthusiastic, forever dogged, forever loyal to the truth (and the Red Sox) and forever a loyal friend. He was the antitheses of official Washington: He had a soul.

The father of 2 great teenage kids, he died Friday afternoon at his home in Bethesda, Md. with his wife Nancy by his side after battling pancreatic cancer for less than a year.

He was a stoic. He wanted no sympathy during his relatively short battle with cancer. He smiled. He joked. He sometimes even had a Sierra Nevada beer.  He never let on that the end was near. His sense of humor never died.

We all lose friends at one time or another. But this loss goes beyond friendship.

Wilke loved journalism more than anyone I knew. He never lost his boyish enthusiasm for it.   I always felt that journalism, which has fallen on hard times,  would turn out OK so long as Wilke was still around.

On Friday,  all of  us lost a little of piece journalism. For those of us who knew John Wilke well, it was a big piece.

Update: To contribute to the education of John’s two children, please write two separate checks payable  to:

The Maryland College Investment Plan,  f/b/o  Robin Wilke, and The Maryland College Investment Plan, f/b/o  Jackson Wilke and mail the checks to:  Wilke Kids Fund, c/o TSD,  Inc., 1714 Connecticut Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20009. Or click here to pay with credit card.

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