A journalist's best friend

Tuesday, March 19, 2019 - Updated: 3:11 pm

By William Cone Editor

Ever since Bob Lockwood died March 4, I have caught myself a few times thinking, “I’ve got to tell Bob about this.” Then I realize that I can’t, which makes me incredibly sad.

Bob was general manager of the Pittsburgh Catholic and diocesan communications manager for 12 years until he retired at the end of 2013. His popular columns, focusing on his life and lessons learned while growing up in Yonkers, New York, were published in the Pittsburgh Catholic for many years. His last column ran March 1.

He was a giant in Catholic publishing, despite being the smallest person in every classroom as a kid, as he told readers many times. Before coming to Pittsburgh, Bob worked nearly three decades at Our Sunday Visitor in Huntington, Indiana, moving up from an editor’s position to president of the company.

While at OSV, he put his imprint on many books and periodicals, from “Catholic Encyclopedia” to the “Encyclopedia of Catholic Doctrine” to OSV Newsweekly newspaper. Along the way, he left a huge impact on the lives of Catholic readers and writers throughout the United States.

I was privileged to meet Bob when I interviewed for the job of editor of Today’s Catholic newspaper in the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend. He was on a committee that was helping the local bishop, John D’Arcy, find the right person to lead the diocesan newspaper.

When I was hired, Bob took me under his wing. We met for lunch occasionally to talk about work and he would offer me advice. I suspect that Bishop D’Arcy asked Bob to befriend me because I had only worked for daily newspapers before, and I made my share of mistakes early on in Fort Wayne. Bob became my mentor when I truly needed one.

But he did the same thing for countless others through the years. His patient, thoughtful manner and ever-present humor made everyone want to do their best. He was a Catholic journalist’s best friend.

I can’t thank him enough for giving me a shot at the greatest position in the U.S. Catholic press — editor of the Pittsburgh Catholic.

His books, “A Faith for Grown-Ups: A Midlife Conversation About What Really Matters” and “A Guy’s Guide to the Good Life: Virtues for Men,” were packed with the Lockwood blend of wit and wisdom. (OSV just republished the second book in November as “Man Virtues: What the Hell Am I Doing with My Life?”)

Reading his books, I can hear Bob’s voice, which sounded like sandpaper rubbing gravel after many decades of cigarette smoking. That was before cancer surgery in which his voice box was removed.

He wrote a lot about “living the good life,” which to him was much more than having a sense of happiness and security. To Bob, the good life was living the cardinal (prudence, fortitude, temperance, justice) and theological (faith, hope, charity) virtues.

As a writer, he had a talent for explaining complex religious subjects so anyone could understand them. Bob’s main task was adult faith formation, and so were the publications that he oversaw.

As a boss, he always emphasized that family came first. If one of my children was dealing with a difficult situation, he wanted to know about it, and wanted me to know that their welfare was of utmost importance.

My daughter’s first car was Bob’s old Toyota. He charged her nothing for it since it needed some work and was just sitting in his garage anyway.

I’m sure it will be an emotional time at his funeral Mass in Fort Wayne March 15, but hopefully my sadness will give way to feelings of gratitude for what Bob meant to me, my family, other writers/editors and many thousands of readers. He was a good and faithful servant.

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