The day I was being hired at The Washington Post, I had a meeting with Ben. “Well,” he roared, “what the hell did you do to get here?!”

In my first job, on the foreign editing staff, I had a good view of his office and could see him prowl through the national staff, talking with the reporters who sat closest to his office, Mary Thornton, Milton Coleman, Don Oberdorfer, the greats of national news. His visits were an instant elixir. He left everyone laughing and, literally, high.

His magic was the most powerful kick-in-the-butt I’ve ever felt, and it was simply this: He loved a great story and he always made you feel like he was envious that you got to be the one reporting it. The mighty, sexy, charismatic Ben Bradlee, who could have done anything in the world, seemed to want nothing more than another great story from the family who worked with him.

He called me “kid” for as long as I can remember. And on the day this picture was taken, the day our series on the Walter Reed Medical Center fiasco was honored, as executive editor Len Downie summarized how the Army staff had so badly neglected its wounded soldiers during the newsroom ceremony, Ben muttered to himself, but loudly: “Those [expletives].”

His instinct for the jugular of injustice was healthy even at 85. I can hear him clearly even now, as I laugh and cry for his passing.

Dana Priest has been a Post editor and reporter since 1986.