Jack W. Germond died today at the age of 85.

When I was first at The Baltimore Sun, either on the copy desk or filling in as assistant national editor, I had the inestimable privilege of the occasional brief contact with Jack Germond and Jules Witcover. I had, years previously, read Timothy Crouse's The Boys on the Bus and knew something of their stature, but it was revelatory to see them in action.

Mr. Germond and Mr. Witcover would call in the evening for some minor correction or some update to an article, and every time they demonstrated how a thoroughgoing pro operates.

They filed on time. They were not given to fanciful literary effects but favored direct, lucid prose. Their copy was clean and seldom needed any editing that amounted to anything.

And when they called in, they knew exactly what they wanted to do. They had formed the new sentences, knew exactly where they were to be placed in the article, and uttered them crisply. They were never rude; they were always businesslike. In an enterprise that still carries more hacks and poseurs than is wholesome, they showed how journalism could be done.

I never lifted a glass with either of them (copy editors don't get out much), but the next time I pour a wee dram, or a hearty one, of whiskey, I will toast Jack Germond, whom I was briefly privileged to think of as a colleague.