Writers Garcia Marquez and Fuentes on Del Olmo
Re “Hundreds Mourn Times Editor,” Feb. 25: I wish I hadn’t read the news of Thursday, Feb. 19, of this dreadful leap year: Frank del Olmo was dead, and no disclaimer or correction was possible. We met in Mexico City in the late 1980s, with an abrazo that felt like a premonition we would become old compadres. We continued to see each other, often sometimes just the two of us, many times in the company of friends.
Our conversations invariably centered on the news of the day. Those of us who are born journalists discover early in our lives, and often against our will, that our craft is not just a calling, a fate, a need or a job. It’s something we can’t avoid: It is a vice among friends.
Frank del Olmo knew this better than anyone else. And he embraced it as a prize awarded to him by life. He did journalism without pause, enslaved by the certainty that the world would be better as long as we faced it ... as he did. He was a giant at his craft because he felt an inexhaustible thrill enjoying and enduring reality, and because he had the fortune of being loved by his friends around the world.
That morning, on the 19th of a month that lasts an extra day, Frank del Olmo had hardly time to stand up from his desk when he was stricken, betrayed by his own noble heart. That morning he became the news, the sad and irreparable piece of news of that ill-fated Thursday.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Outwardly serene, internally intense, forever in search of the truth, Frank del Olmo was my student at Harvard while enjoying a Nieman Fellowship for excellence in journalism. Frank believed in information not only as a duty but as a right. He was a bridge between Mexico, Mexican Americans and the larger U.S. public. The bridge was made of paper. We now realize it was really made, like Frank’s heart, of gold.