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Letters from the Editor
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Without a doubt, one of the classiest guys I have ever met in journalism was Bill Woo.

Bill was editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and the first Asian American to hold the top newsroom spot at a metro daily.

Lettersfromtheeditor155x237 But when you talked with him, he was never the subject of conversation. Our first talk was about Mei-Ling Hopgood, a reporter who went from the Free Press to the Post-Dispatch during our ugly strike. He marveled at how she had described a coffee spill on a negotiator's shirt to show how intense negotiations had become. After she came back to the Free Press, he would ask about her.

After Bill moved on to teaching graduate classes at Stanford University, a student who had done her undergraduate work at the University of Michigan told me about these wonderful notes, heartfelt and inspirational, that he would send to the members of her class. The student, Bill and I were together at a party where the student was a house guest and, as was his style, he deflected my questions about his notes and told me how much potential the student had.

I aspired to be that kind of teacher, but never made it happen.

On my next visit to Palo Alto, the woman who had hosted the party told me that Bill was sick. Cancer. She said he didn't want people to know, but that if I wanted to see him, I should go.

We didn't talk about cancer, of course, because I wasn't supposed to know, and we didn't talk about him. I was grateful for that hour with him, but wished he had told me more about himself.

Now, he has. Those informal essays to students form the basis for a new book, "Letters from the Editor: Lessons on Journalism and Life."

It will be released on Sept. 17.

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