I was saddened to hear yesterday of the passing late Saturday of Mary Lou Forbes, who first provided a much-needed canvas for conservative opinion and policy solutions more than a quarter-century ago, as editor of the Commentary pages of The Washington Times. She relished that job until she collapsed two weeks ago under the weight of an undiagnosed cancer.
Mary Lou was more than a good journalist, although she got a kick out of showing the men’s club at the old Washington Evening Star that she could report as fast and as well as any of them. That’s just what she did in the late 1950s, during her Pulitzer-winning coverage of the school desegregation fight in Virginia.
More importantly, Ludy was a good person: imaginative, creative and principled. Those qualities, joined to discipline, formidable work habits, and high standards, made her a force within the conservative movement as the Reagan revolution gathered steam.
To me, Ludy was a friend and a mentor. She helped me sharpen my thinking and my writing as a columnist. Here at The Heritage Foundation, we were grateful when she made space on her Commentary pages for the views of our policy experts. But she didn’t mince words when one of those pieces wasn’t clear, engaging or distinctive enough.
Ludy became a regular at Heritage’s annual Christmas party for Washington media, her presence announced by a full-throated laugh that filled the room. Along with her laugh, the inspiration and guidance of Mary Lou Forbes will be sorely missed by all those who care about rigorous, honest debate about the role of government.
For me, the sense of loss began yesterday afternoon, when I didn’t see Ludy seated in her customary pew at St. Mary’s Church. Even as I prayed for her, I could take comfort in the thought that she had rejoined her beloved husband, James — and that the Lord had plenty to keep her busy.