In Memoriam: Priscilla Buckley

When I see Priscilla Buckley, who died over the weekend at age 90, in my mind’s eye, she is roaring with laughter. That’s how you would find her much of the time during her 43 years as managing editor of National Review. She so reveled in a good story or a bon mot. Her chin would tilt up, and her sunbeam grin would turn her blue eyes into little half moons of mirth. It was particularly true when brother Bill was around. The two spent a lifetime chortling over the lighter side of life. And when you were around them, the world seemed altogether brighter.

Bill Buckley was the founder, owner, editor, and guiding spirit of National Review. But Priscilla, his sister, set the daily tone at the offices on East 35th Street in Manhattan. Her rule was benevolent and irenic, thank God, because magazines of opinion are known for eccentric and prickly characters and NR was no exception. But while writers would be late with their copy, or fail to show up for meetings, or squabble with their editors, everyone seemed mentally to tuck his shirt in when Priscilla was around. She was so gracious and professional and discerning that people wanted to be better in her presence. (They didn’t always succeed.)

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