Among all the deserved column inches that The Post devoted to the memory of Meg Greenfield, one phrase captured what a suburban reader learned to expect under her op-ed byline: "Her signature insight and gracious, guff-free prose" [editorial, May 14]. Though these words were used in recognition of her early work at the old Reporter magazine, they were just as true at the end.
Add to that that she answered her mail.
David Von Drehle calls Meg Greenfield's recent demise "a hard death for The Post" [Style, May 14]. Because of her many wonderful traits, not least an instinctive ability to combine formidable reasoning power with reasonableness -- a rare combination indeed -- it is a hard death felt well beyond the confines of The Post. We should not fail, however, to celebrate that this magnificent journalist chose to spend more than 30 years making the inhabitants of the Washington area -- and, through her Newsweek column, the nation -- wiser and sometimes better. Not a bad legacy for someone who took policy issues far more seriously than she did herself.
HUGH H. TROUT III
When Meg Greenfield and I lunched in Washington many years ago, she confided that she had told her secretary that she was having lunch with her first boss and that she still didn't know what we did. She was right. I didn't know either. I was her first boss.
We first met when she volunteered to work on the Stevenson Bandwagon, a daily newspaper I was producing at the Democratic National Convention. She was fresh from college -- bright, pretty and funny -- and the two of us had a wonderful time putting out the paper with such contributors as John Steinbeck, James T. Farrell, Eric Sevareid and Murray Kempton, among many others.
After the campaign, I was drafted to run the MGM defense against a proxy fight takeover. It was all because I had done a cover story for Newsweek on the Montgomery Ward proxy fight and had put together a book on proxy fights for a friend. But I knew nothing about organizing a proxy fight campaign. What I did know was that I needed someone to help me, and I did know that Meg was looking for a job, and I called her.
I briefly outlined the situation and asked what salary she wanted. She told me, and I burst out laughing. I told her to look at our extensive suite of rooms, the leather furniture, the satin-lined walls. After all, we were saving the company, and they had given us the office of a recently deceased executive vice president.
"Meg, I can't pay you that ridiculous salary," I said. "It's got to be at least twice that much."
I don't know how we did it, or what we did, but MGM did win that proxy fight. And then we both wisely went back to writing.
But we had so much fun, and what a wonderful person she was.
RALPH G. MARTIN