Masters of letters to the editor

Years ago, not when I worked there, The Providence Journal, in its prosperous and growing days, had an annual dinner to honor the best writers of letters to the editor in the previous year.

Over the years there have been masters of that craft on the Commentary pages. Three who come to mind; Robert Riesman, an eloquent  and urbane businessman, philanthropist, military expert and leading national Democrat who died in 2004; Felicia Nimue Ackerman, a Brown University philosophy professor who is still going strong, and another great friend of mine, Marvin Greenberg, a retired business executive and health-policy expert who recently died after a long, tough battle against cancer.

Whatever the occasional dissimilarities of their views, their letters  usually share  the concision, general knowledge, logic and humor, especially in denunciation, necessary for a memorable letter to the editor in a general-interest publication. 

I'm sorry I wasn't around to attend one of those dinners where some masters of this very public craft were honored. 

I should also note that good writers of letters to the editor tend to be good company in person, too.

--- Robert Whitcomb