Bob Slater loved words. And they loved him back.
As more than one family member pointed out at his funeral Tuesday, he was one of those fortunate souls who discovered early on what they wanted to do in life – to write. And he did just that for decades, extremely well.
I met Bob nearly 10 years ago, after he had retired from Time magazine and was focusing on his flourishing book career. We struck up a friendship, and over the years I turned to him many times for advice, mentorship, and sometimes just to hear his colorful stories about some of the famous people he had written books on.
When he approached me a couple years ago with the idea of helping out the Post’s editorial staff with the goal of improving our news reporting, headline writing and copyediting, we jumped at the chance.
It was a good decision. He nurtured young reporters, conducted lively workshops for our desk staff and wrote regular memos, praising the leads to some stories and skewering others.
It was a learning experience we all valued. And I think Bob valued it as well, feeling vital by dispensing so generously his hard-earned knowledge.
When the idea was raised that he begin to write a regular interview slot for The Jerusalem Report
, Bob dove headfirst into the assignment.
And the last year saw some of his most insightful writing, as he profiled the lives of interesting Israelis who are making a difference.
His enthusiasm for journalism and the written word never diminished, even as his physical limitations didn’t seem to restrict his voluminous output.
Last year, after seeing a feature in the Post I had written on Haim Topol, he asked me for the famed entertainer’s contact information because he had always wanted to interview him.
A few weeks later, Bob called, as excited as a teenager. “I just left Topol’s house! I had to pinch myself that I was really talking to him.”
That sense of wonder and genuine interest in meeting people, hearing their stories and writing them down so others could read them sustained Bob throughout his illustrious career.
We at the Post and the Report were blessed that he chose to wind down his professional life in our midst. We are all richer for knowing Bob, spending a little time with him and hearing some of the words he loved so much.