Lionel Walsh - Always a journalist
Monday 14 October 2019
Lionel Walsh was my first bureau chief after desk work in London. It was in 1970 Bonn with Bob Hart, Edita Fuchs (now Smith) and the late Christiane Cowell, among others. (Some have remained good friends since then including Dita, and in Berlin, Annette von Broecker and Colin McIntyre).
He was kind, helpful, funny and supportive, even if he forgot my arrival as I stood sighing at the train station and made my way to the hotel. I also befriended his lovely wife, Veronika, an East German. Lionel and I stayed in touch over the years and he visited me in New York, saying “I am now considered a suit not a journalist” because of his job at the International Chamber of Commerce.
Eventually I returned to New York as news editor and then associate editor worldwide, editor Africa and UN bureau chief. Still we stayed in touch. His illness after the deaths of Veronika and elder son Brendan deteriorated and he left with regrets his home in the Loire Valley where he often told me how much he missed giving English lessons to pre-teens.
He moved to a nursing home near Sheffield, not far from his son and daughter. I visited a few years ago and he chatted about a book he was writing about his life in journalism, slowly pecking out the letters despite his paralysis. We ended up in a nearby pub waiting for his brother, hours after we arrived as Lionel got the time wrong. He telephoned me in New York frequently. He asked questions about the news of the day and the lives of mutual friends.
He remained curious about the world, always a journalist. ■