Left the YMCA this morning to hear that William F. Buckley, conservative icon and founder of National Review was found dead in his home today.

Say what you want about Buckley’s erudite persona, he truly was a giant among Americans. He stood for something in the midst of times when it became increasingly unfashionable to do so. He never apologized for what he believed to be foundational principles of civilization, even when others were seeking ways to excuse their core beliefs. A true Renaissance man, Buckley was a writer, a publisher, a TV talk show host, a sailor, a harpsichordist, and more, and he did it all with a real sense of style, grace, intelligence and dignity.

Buckley was one of my heroes in a lot of ways. I first read his Up from Liberalism as a sophomore in college. That was followed closely by his classic God and Man at Yale. Then came the first subscription to National Review, and the discovery of Blackford Oakes in Buckley’s spy thrillers. His sense of style inspired my own, and I believe it was Buckley who once opined…

One can never be overdressed.

His work inspired a column I wrote in the school newspaper, “The Perils of Being a Young Conservative.” His life showed a devotion to God, his country, his family, and his principles.

We’ll miss his intelligence, his wit, and his brilliant personality. And we’ll wonder who is there to pick up the mantle?