Journalists who worked with Bill Klink at the Tri-City Herald describe him like a character from the 1940s screwball comedy His Girl Friday.
"He was a rapid-fire talker," said Ken Robertson, the Herald's recently retired executive editor who worked as city editor under Klink in the late '70s and early '80s.
He told an anecdote about Klink being on the phone with a reporter in one of the bureaus the Herald operated at the time, and being so busy talking that Klink didn't notice when the reporter either got disconnected or hung up.
"The reporter tried to call Klink back and couldn't get through because Klink was still talking," Robertson said with a laugh. "The person who took the call tried to tell Klink, 'I've got so-and-so on the phone,' and Klink said, 'No you don't. I'm talking to him.' "
Klink died Nov. 6 at his home on Camano Island. He was 81.
He was from Sedalia, Mo., and graduated with a journalism degree from the University of Missouri before serving two years in the Army during the Korean War.
He worked as assistant city editor at a newspaper in Freeport, Ill., and as a publications writer-editor for the Command and General Staff Army College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., before coming to the Herald in 1961.
He was a longtime editor who filled several roles before leaving the paper in 1984.
After the Herald, he worked in public relations for Rockwell Hanford Company and Westinghouse Hanford Company until he retired in 1991 and moved to Camano Island.
Jack Briggs, retired Herald publisher who was a reporter when Klink came to the Herald as a copy editor in 1961, said Klink was an excellent editor with a great grasp of numbers and grammar.
"He was a great guy to work with," Briggs said. "He was very much of a wordsmith and did an excellent job as editor of marshaling the forces of the newsroom and covering a turbulent time in the Tri-Cities."
Robertson remembers Klink as a no-nonsense editor who earned his own catch phrase in the newsroom.
In the days when Glenn Lee was publisher, Lee sometimes would give a reporter or photographer an assignment they disliked, Robertson said. One day Klink got fed up and told a complaining reporter, "You just need to do this, otherwise I've got a drawer full of résumés."
And Klink opened his drawer to show the reporter, Robertson said.
"The line was infamous for quite a few years when somebody would whine about getting assigned to something they weren't thrilled about," he said.