In Loving Memory of Willam F. Buckley, an Obituary by Longtime Friend Richard Cowan

Originally Posted February 27, 2008 on

In Loving Memory, by Richard Cowan  

I cannot begin to express my sorrow at the passing of Bill Buckley. We met about 49 years ago. I was 18, a freshman at Yale, and drunk. He was 33, editor of some little magazine that I had never heard of, and amused.  

Because I was very active in Conservative undergraduate politics at his alma mater, we became friends, but Bill had countless friends across the political spectrum. He was a genuinely kind human being, and would never wallow in the rudeness that mars politics today. 

Bill was also Christian gentleman, and although I could never join him in the Catholic Church, I was greatly influenced by him to respect Christianity, and was moved to the Holy Spirit by my memory of his saying that he would not want to be “only a libertarian.” He also had friends of every faith, and none. And many who are gay. 


Should Marijuana Users Come Out Of The Closet?    

Someday, I may reminisce more about my memories of him, but for now let me just say that if he had not published an article that I sent him in 1972 on why Conservatives should support the legalization of marijuana, it is most unlikely that I would ever started writing, and even less likely that I would have started (I cannot find the article anywhere online, but it was really not very good.) 

Sometimes I am given credit for convincing Bill about marijuana, but I think he was already convinced, and my little article was just the opportunity he was waiting for.  


Exclusive To MarijuanaNews: Interview With William F. Buckley, Jr. By Noah Pollak and Dan Mindus  

Almost exactly fourteen years later, National Review would also publish another article, How The Narcs Created Crack, that I think was much better, but far less controversial. He had done much to move the public discourse in our direction. 

Subsequently, he was responsible for my meeting the late Peter McWilliams, and was very outspoken about the injustice of his case as well as Steve Kubby’s. 


Buckley Writes On McWilliams And Kubby Cases; Great Ending, If I May Say So.


Buckley Denounces Prosecution of McCormick and McWilliams In Strongest Terms Yet.”On the eve of the trial Judge King decided, so to speak, to eliminate the Bill of Rights.”  

Bill was 82 and in poor health and his wife Pat, a great lady and the only woman who I could imagine being Mrs. William F. Buckley, died last year. I was time for him to join her. I suspect he is playing the harpsichord with Bach about now.  

God bless you, Bill, and thanks for everything. And I do mean everything of value. 

The Washington Post has a full obituary about his long and astonishingly productive life with some great pictures.

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