A legendary New York columnist has moved to the great Copy Desk in the Sky. Bill Reel, who wrote the “Reel People” column for the New York Daily News, and later toiled for at time for my own diocesan paper, the Brooklyn Tablet, died Monday from cancer.
Over at NRO’s The Corner, William McGurn takes note:
Occasionally he used his pulpit for some interesting arguments, once proposing himself for either a cardinalship or a spot on the Supreme Court when he learned that you didn’t have to be a priest to qualify for the former or a lawyer to qualify for the latter. For his most faithful readers, though, “Reel People” was the column of the second chance. Week after week, he wrote about New Yorkers — alcoholics, gamblers, cheaters — who had messed up their lives pretty badly, but were searching for the road back. He wrote about these misfits with wisdom and humor and charity, because he saw them the same way Mother Teresa viewed the hard cases that often crossed her path: “There goes Christ in one of his more distressing forms.”
Nowhere was this newspaperman’s commitment to the dignity of the human person more evident than in his embrace of the unborn. After one Mother’s Day column about the Good Counsel homes for pregnant women — it was a desperate time for them financially — Bill received a call from Francis Albert Sinatra, asking where he could send his donation.
Last night he left this world for a better one, his last words to his son being that he was “full of faith.” Indeed he was.
Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May his soul, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.