I woke this morning to the news that my friend Jeanne Leiby died yesterday afternoon in Baton Rouge. She was a writer, the editor of The Southern Review and a beautiful person. I worked with her on a few small projects related to the Review and LSU and my work for 225.
Our mutual friend Alex Cook wrote a beautiful elegiac post on his blog that encapsulates what I feel about Jeanne and now, her death, but I’ll say a few words here as well.
The first time I officially and really met her was in her office in The Old President’s House. We recognized each other immediately as like-minded spirits and within five minutes of meeting, we were talking and laughing like decades-long friends and plotting a benevolent new world order. This was Jeanne’s magic. She was so vivacious and passionate that she couldn’t help exciting the people around her, encouraging grandiose ideas as being very, very possible. She recognized the passions in others, which helped them see it themselves.
She was a wonderful editor, tough but compassionate. She was generous and warm, funny and bold. And while I am not her oldest or closest friend, I feel that my life is enormously bereft without her in it, without the possibility of her.
I still can’t believe it.