One of our best authors, most severe and yet most loyal critics, most faithful and most attentive readers, Willi Bender, is gone.
The first lesson I ever learned on my new job as Zi editor in 2001, is one that he gave me. Being an engineer, and lacking any experience at editing, when I was entrusted with the task of editing a text by Willi Bender, I pared it all down to the bare facts. His prompt response: “Go write something smart yourself before you go disimproving my texts!” Ouch! I immediately decided to treat other people’s texts with greater care and began to work on my own style.
The weal and woe of our trade journal was always close to Willi Bender’s heart, and we owe him a great deal. Without him, Zi certainly would not have been able to gain worldwide prominence as a specialist journal for heavy ceramics. We had the honor of publishing part of his outstanding oeuvre. Willi Bender authored a wealth of articles and essays for Zi, including numerous market overviews on a wide variety of topics. He meticulously familiarized himself with each different domain and researched it thoroughly – not just the technical facts, but also the historical context.
However, Willi Bender was not only an author, but also an avid reader from whom I received frequent feedback. He always began his emails with praise for, comments on and suggestions concerning various contributions. And I was grateful for his final assessment – even if I didn’t always agree with him. To have someone who deals both intensively and critically with the magazine and really gets involved is something that, unfortunately, has become a rarity.
We worked together for nearly 17 years, meeting time and again at the “Brickworks History” conference. There, Willi Bender always enthusiastically told me all about his current endeavors, usually with a historical context.
His passing marks the end of an era. I miss him. Thank you for everything, Willi Bender.