June 17, 2000
In some ways it was a little like a con party, but a little quieter, in an unusual location, with fen dressed in unusual ways...
I went to my first fannish funeral today, when I went down to Joe Mayhew's memorial service. I've known other fans who died (Monty Wells and Lan come instantly to mind), but I just couldn't get to their services. Joe's family graciously arranged for the service to be on a Saturday, a week after his death, meaning fans from all over the Mid-Atlantic came. There was something like 150-200 people there, and close to half seemed to have fannish connections.
The service was held in a Catholic Church outside of DC. A large cartoon of Joe was propped up in front of the altar. A woman played the harp and sang Ave Maria (she looked a little familiar, but I'm not sure who she was). The priest looked just like Ben Kingsley (but obviously wasn't). The service wasn't a full-fledged mass, and only lasted about 20 minutes. The priest mostly read from the Bible, gave a brief homily, said some prayers, then said we should join the family in a reception downstairs.
Things were much more informal downstairs. Joe's family (many fans have met Joe's storytelling brother Bill Mayhew) set up an array of photographs of Joe and printed off the rememberences people had sent in. I particularly enjoyed seeing the photos of Joe in the seminary and the photos of Joe with black hair. The large cartoon of Joe became a guest book - we were asked to sign and write a note on it.
In some ways it did have the feeling of a Discave, without the leaking ceiling and the card games. Lots of regular Disclave attendees/committee were there and we just sat around and talked for nearly three hours.
I miss Joe - we'd been friends since the early '80s. He did one of my favorite Boskone T-shirts from about 1990 - the one with characatures of dozens of fans.
Here's the rememberance letter I sent to Bill Mayhew:
In a social group full of multi-talented people, Joe stood out. Literally.
How many people in the science fiction community:
Contributed art to probably 100 different publications, both fannish and pro
Reviewed fiction professionally for a major newspaper
Was one of the leading science fiction librarians in the country
Carved his own walking sticks
And I'm sure I'm missing a few of Joe's many talents. I always lived hundreds of miles away from Joe, so I didn't see him all that often. But we knew him for about twenty years and always looked forward to seeing him.
Well, he did have the famous temper that many of us know about, but, for the most part, Joe was a smart, surprisingly gentle and perceptive human being. He might have made an interesting clergyman if he'd stayed in the seminary, but we fans would have been that much the less for it.
Joe's art, which almost always humorous, had a great range of humor, from the obscure historical nit pick to the latest fannish trend. He was also quite prolific - there will probably be new Joe Mayhew art in zines for the next two years. So in at least one way, he really hasn't left us at all.
One of his finest talents was a true talent for friendship. Joe always went out of his way to make new people feel welcome. I saw him talking to new fans at almost every convention I ever saw him at.
Maybe St. Peter was looking to retire....