A Final Farewell To Our Good Friend Ken Bacon

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Ken Bacon had three careers and lots of friends, and helped millions of people. He died of cancer, at the age of 64, just as our show was on the air last Saturday. Bacon was a journalist-turned-activist, and his wife, Darcy Bacon, was a longtime Weekend Edition staff member. Host Scott Simon shares this remembrance.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

And we have to say good buy to a friend this week, Ken Bacon. He had three careers, lots of friends, and helped millions of people. He died of cancer at the age of 64, just as our show was on the air last Saturday. Ken was a reporter and editor for the Wall Street Journal for nearly 30 years. While covering the Defense Department he came to admire the spirit and sacrifice of young men and women in uniform and became the department's press spokesman. And while dealing with deployments in Bosnia and Kosovo, Ken was touched by the plight of refugees.

He became the head of Refugees International in 2001 and outspoken advocate for millions scattered by war, famine and fear. Even blue-blooded WASPs were refugees at one time, he reminded the New York Times - mine came over from England in 1630, fleeing debts, for all I know.

Ken Bacon also tied his own bowties. He told funny stories. And he managed to be the same man - honest, kind, patient - whether talking to politicians, reporters or refugees. Ken's wife Darcy Bacon was one of our long-time staff members. She sent us a note a few days ago in which she said that near the end Ken had uttered these words for his friends and family: For the last two weeks I've been listening extensively to Mozart's "Missa Brevis in F Major."

(Soundbite of "Missa Brevis in F Major")

SIMON: It's a hauntingly evanescent combination of hope, energy and grace, and it's made me realize that even at the darkest moments there are periods of bright light and hope. I am seeing new power and support from family, faith and friends, said Ken Bacon, who closed with a signature graciousness: And I thank you all for that. Love, Ken.

(Soundbite of "Missa Brevis in F Major")

SIMON: This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

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