Barzun's mind was one of world's wonders

Historians in the News

Former Express-News columnist Cary Clack is communications director for the congressional campaign of Joaquin Castro.

More than eight years ago, I went to my mailbox in the newsroom of the San Antonio Express-News, found a letter addressed to me from Jacques Barzun and almost collapsed from the anticipated intellectual beat-down no doubt coming from this historic and iconic writer and thinker. Such was my self-confidence that I assumed I'd written something Barzun had dismantled point by point. To my surprise, it was a note praising me for a column I'd written on education.

I wrote back thanking Barzun for his generous note and telling him how much I admired him and his writing. This led to an invitation to visit him and his lovely wife, Marguerite, in their Oakwell Farms home and a friendship that was enriched, over the years, by an exchange of notes, cards, books and laughter.

In between Marguerite's phone calls last Thursday, the last one bearing the news that Jacques had just died at the age of 104, I found myself thinking of his wonderful sense of humor....

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Jacques Barzun, 1907-2012

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