WEDNESDAY is our busiest day of the week here at Newspaper House. But the hustle and bustle of putting a paper together was underpinned yesterday by an overwhelming sense of sadness and loss at the news of the death of our colleague and friend Bill Heine.

Bill became entrenched in the life of Oxford in a way that perhaps only an outsider could be – maybe it took an American to prick our pomposity, add a touch of showbiz to our cinemas, and bring power to account.

It’s a testimony to the man that so many people thought of him as ‘Our Bill’ – whether they read his columns here, devoured his books, listened to his BBC Radio Oxford shows, or simply raised a smile when they passed the Headington Shark House.

Many will see that house as his lasting legacy, and hopefully it will continue to stand as a reminder of one man’s vision and sheer bloody-mindedness. But there was much, much more to Bill than that. He crammed more into his 74 years than many of us could even dream of.

From rubbing shoulders with the Clintons during his university years, to ‘accidentally’ (so he maintains!) headbutting Richard Nixon at John F Kennedy’s funeral, to taking part in the civil rights rallies in 1960s America, Bill had a knack for being at the right place at the right time – and what stories he had to tell.

But possibly his greatest legacy to his public will be the extraordinary columns he had been writing for the Oxford Mail, chronicling his battle with leukaemia. And I use the term ‘battle’ advisedly, because Bill declared full-scale war on the disease which went on to claim his life, never surrendering and always willing to go through whatever treatment, however painful, if it meant the possibility of a few more moments of life.

He never missed a deadline, even if it meant dictating his copy over the phone from a hospital bed, or filing in the early hours of the morning when he should have been sleeping.

Rest in peace, Bill. You’ve earned it.