William F. Buckley, Jr. died February 27, 2008, while working on the latest installment of his column "On the Right," a standard pursuit since 1962. Departing from his home in Stamford, Conn., he now resides in real estate more valuable than his Manhattan property with neighbors more esteemed than the celebrated literati, revolutionists, ideologues, partisans, diplomats, and artists who frequented his life and environment. He outlived all his critics, competitors, admirers, and readers save those his Creator chose to punish/reward by calling WFB from their company.

Buckley's absence magnifies the intellectual silence of the conservative movement still unrecovered from the passing of Russell Kirk in 1994, and severs one of the few remaining ties to the foundation of America's modern conservative movement. His heterodoxy birthed a crusade: from Goldwater to Reagan to Gingrich to today. He launched the journal of conservative thought and opinion "National Review" in 1955. "It stands athwart history, yelling Stop, at a time when no one is inclined to do so, or to have much patience with those who so urge it." From that line in his first editor's note, we find not only the persistent ideals of WFB, but also the artful medium he employed.

His "Notes & Asides" in National Review portrayed that the joy of language, and not just the idea of the words, shouted and whispered from his pen, or rather, keyboard. No Luddite was he so firm in those things eternal, so steadfast in polite traditions, yet so embracing of technology and using modern tools to advance the messages he sought to communicate.

His penchant for arcane words satisfied both the reader and the writer. In his introduction to James Jackson Kilpatrick's "The Writer's Art," Buckley mused, "There are reasons for using words even when they are unfamiliar. It can be a matter of rhythm, it can be a matter of the exact fit - and it can be something by the way of obeisance to the people whose honed verbal appetites created the need for such a word, which therefore came into being. Call it supply side linguistics." Buckleyian semantics often left his allies and opponents alike confused, amused, and befuddled.

When people make the banal query, "Who, living or dead, would you like to meet?" I never consider William F. Buckley, Jr. To meet him only (by accounts of those who knew him) would do a disservice to both one's lasting perspective of him, and to his time spent in polite chatter. I would not have wanted to meet him. I would have wanted to know him.

But I did not know him. He also did not know me. Nevertheless, in July 1997 he went on vacation and without intending to do so (and without ever a thank-you from me), he provided a vacancy on the editorial page of the Madison County Journal. The publisher Jim Prince gave me an opportunity to fill that space and upon the return of WFB from vacation, we shared space on the editorial page. For longer than five years I wrote the column I fashioned "Reasonably Right." I thought it a fitting play on words: reasonably conservative, reasonably correct; and homage to Buckley's "On The Right" - but only reasonably so (I would not pretend to reach his intellect or skill). We shared the page and I felt it an honor that my words would appear in the same published paper as his.

Since his death, his friends and colleagues and enemies have written columns and essays and articles about WFB. What more can be said?

Samuel S. Vaughan, editor of more than twenty Buckley books, quoted Time Magazine in "Buckley: The Right Word," relaying "A good obituary is always hard to write. Celebrating well-lived lives, marking the passage of exemplary men and women - this is a journalistic task with a whiff of the sacred about it." Vaughan says of Buckley, "In WFB's case, the task is not just journalistic, but a final act of friendship and in some cases love. Even the deaths of his antagonists bring out the courtesies of the man. He never disguises their differences but buries them with the deceased...In finding the right language with which to say farewell, he puts words to a noble purpose...WFB does not write most of them as mini-biographical sketches, preferring instead to strive for essence rather than comprehensive treatment...."

William F. Buckley, Jr., a gregarious man of solemn value who loved the company of friends and wine and ideas and adventure and words, ceased to write and died on February 27, 2008, the causal order of which is yet still undetermined.

Brian Perry, a former columnist and deputy editorial page director of the Madison County Journal, serves as Communications Director for U.S. Rep. Charles W. "Chip" Pickering, Jr.