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Editor’s Note: A Legend Says Farewell

December 6, 2021

By Paul Tarricone

Willard “Bill” Warren

This “Editor’s Note” was supposed to be about the return of LightFair or the theme of this issue—hospitality—and the comeback of restaurants and hotels post-pandemic. But the best laid plans were scrapped on October 5, my first day back in the New York City office, when my first call came through. The call was from venerable LD+A columnist Bill Warren, who informed me that the column in this issue would be his last. At 93 years young and after more than 22 years as an LD+A contributor, Bill was ready to hang up his keyboard.

It would be impossible to summarize all of Bill’s contributions within the confines of this page, but I can share what made him stand out as a contributor. Let’s start at the beginning. When I joined LD+A in 2003, among the first things I did was contact our roster of columnists to introduce myself and get a sense of what each brought to the publication. That turned into a lunch in Manhattan with Bill, where this layperson got a crash course in lighting fundamentals. More than that, Bill had some strong opinions about publishing and magazines in general. “The pretty picture articles are nice, but don’t forget about the metrics and science.” Bill would also hold our feet to the fire on graphic design. “Some of the fonts I see in your competitors’ magazines are so small that they’re not legible. Don’t do that with LD+A.” Spoken like a true editor and duly noted.

How did Bill sustain his column for nearly 260 issues? The most critical factor might have been his reporter’s instinct. As a consultant, he brought his client’s concerns and questions about energy use and lighting quality to the pages of the magazine. Boots on the ground, real-world anecdotes, feedback from the trenches, reporting not just ivory tower philosophizing. Readers took notice. Bill has a bit of a competitive streak, so when our annual reader survey results were completed, he would revel in his “rivalry” with Jim Brodrick of the DOE, with the two often trading the number one and two rankings among columnists.

Space is running short, so let me say, thank you Bill, for all that you’ve done for the IES and LD+A. And for those who will miss his monthly column, Bill promised me that he’s not going away entirely. Expect to see a letter to the editor or two, should inspiration strike.