Such was The New Yorker. After 1969, McKelway never wrote another word for publication. He died in January 1980, at the DeWitt Nursing Home in Manhattan. He was fortunate to be memorialized by Shawn, his colleague for forty-six years, and the finest New Yorker writer never to have a byline in The New Yorker. His unsigned obituary concluded: “McKelway was a born writer and an inspired writer, and he saw the world in his own way and wrote clearly and beautifully about what he saw. He lived his life in a dream, but it was, on the whole, a benevolent dream. We can be grateful that, through his work, he was able to share it with the rest of us.

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Ben Yagoda directs the journalism program at the University of Delaware and is the author of About Town: The New Yorker and the World It Made and When You Catch an Adjective, Kill It: The Parts of Speech, for Better and/or Worse, which will be published by Broadway Books in February.