Monday 3 October 2022
Rolf Söderlind left UPI in Stockholm in 1977. I got hired to fill the opening, after my wife had seen the job ad in a Swedish paper she brought home for me one day in Basel, where we lived. On the day I had my interview in Stockholm, a big story broke and I was able to be helpful. I have Rolf and Baader Meinhof to thank for 12 enjoyable years in international journalism.
As so often happens, life separated us. After Stockholm, I moved to UPI in Germany and later to Madrid - and then joined Reuters.
Rolf, who worked for the AP at the time, and I kept in loose touch. I loved hearing from him, and of him. I felt he was there, and sometimes he was - as when we coincided in Poland in 1980 during the summer of Solidarnosc, he with AP and I with UPI.
Years later, as my period with Reuters and journalism was coming to an end, Rolf emerged in Bonn - with a by now eviscerated UPI. I immediately thought he would be a find and talked to our beloved editor Annette von Broecker about him. As Tom Heneghan writes, we got him on board when the chance arose, in a two-step process.
For some reason, Reuters got into one of its knickers-in-a-twist moods about this Swede hiring another Swede. I couldn't see this principle applied elsewhere, but never mind. I knew Rolf would shine given the opportunity. He did.
Apart from our overlapping destinies, a deep love for the blues united us. My instrument is the harmonica, and although we sometimes jived about playing together, we never did. Too bad. It would have been a blast.
RIP my friend. ■