(from Progress Report 0)
Howard DeVore's legend as a huckster, storyteller, and fan to be reckoned with has been growing for more than 50 years. A great many things have come out of Big Hearted Howard's famous garage, including predecessors to the Guide to the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards, whose 1998 Advent edition got Howard added to his own list as a nominee for the Best Related Book Hugo. He helped organize the Detroit Worldcon of 1959, and the TriCon of 1966, hosted in Cleveland by fans from three cities, with Howard serving as the Detroit Associate ConChair.
Photo by Chad Childers, 2002.
Howard DeVore has died. I just got the news from Mark Hickman who got it directly from Howard's family. It happened yesterday, Dec. 31 in the late morning. He'd been moved to a rehab facility and had been there about 15 hours and simply passed away. Mark knew no other details as yet, but speculates that Howard will be cremated and that there will be a memorial service at Worldcon and at Midwestcon.
"Big-Hearted" Howard DeVore was one of the best known and best liked fans of all time. He was an SF reader and collector since at least the mid '30s, and when he went off to fight in WWII he moved all his books and magazines into a spare room of his house and padlocked the door shut so that he'd never have to worry about what was happening to his collection while he was away. The key went with him to Europe and flew with him on all his combat missions over France and Germany. Howard was an Aerial Gunner in the US Army 8th Air Force and flew the belly-gunner's position in a B-17, probably the most dangerous single job on that aircraft. He rarely talked about his war years and when he did it was nearly always some incredible tale of outwitting the Army at its own game - a practice at which Howard was a master. However, several years ago Howard and I both took on the job of guarding the huxter room at Pulpcon and spent the night alone locked in that big old room full of pulps. Howard wasn't able to sleep and so we sat up most of the night and talked. Eventually he started talking about his experiences in WWII and for the first time I heard the real story of the horrors he saw first hand in the skies over Europe. I won't go into details, but his war bore little resemblance to the prettied-up war movies that we've all seen. He saw war at its worst and did his job in spite of it all. Ever since that night Howard's been one of my heroes of WWII. He'd have laughed at that idea. I think he'd actually have hated that idea. But heroes are rarely the guys who ask for the dirty jobs; they're the guys who get the dirty job done no matter what the cost. And that was Howard DeVore.
In fandom, he did it all and cast a wide shadow. He published zines, most recently in PEAPS and in other apas. He was involved - directly and behind the scenes - with many conventions, was a master SF dealer and became the dealer that editors and other professionals turned to for rare SF, he was an early mainstay of the NFFF, First Fandom, and other fan groups, was a publisher of NFFF publications and wrote a book or two of his own, and no doubt did a great deal more that we'll all hear about in the fullness of time.
Howard's greatest fannish impact was as a mentor and a friend to countless fans all across the entire spectrum of fandom - including me. He was the guy who would always know the info that you wanted or would know where to find it. He knew where to find books and pulps that no one else could find. He had the connections and the knowledge of how to use them. A very handy fellow to be friends with.
He was hardly perfect. Howard smoked too much and continued to do so long after he knew better. He could get furious when a friend of his was being done wrong by anybody else - and would frequently assume the duty of correcting the situation - which was something else that he was very good at. He and his late wife Sybil raised a good bunch of children. I finally met one of his daughters, Karol last year at Midwestcon and immediately found her to be as delightful to talk with as her dad (and much prettier...) Last year when the Midwestcon weekend came around I was still at work that Friday and had had a terrible week. Irritable co-workers, angry surgeons, lost surgical instruments, grouchy patients complaining, heartbreaking patients dying... and just at quitting time I got the news that the vacation time off I'd requested had been denied. In that moment when all seemed lost, I remembered that Midwestcon was to be held that weekend and that I'd heard a report that Howard - who'd been very ill - was thinking of showing up for it. In that very instant I knew how I'd spend my weekend. I drove directly home, packed a small bag, grabbed some CDs of old time radio shows for the truck, kissed Liz good-bye for the weekend and drove all night to Cincinatti, arriving early that morning for Midwestcon. I was so sleepy all that day that I probably appeared drugged to all who saw me, but I grabbed a catnap outside by the pool and managed to function. Met some good friends and got to hang out with Howard, who had indeed shown up. He looked better than he had in quite a while and proudly reported that he'd quit smoking and had lost about 35 pounds. I'd always known that he could do both of those things whenever he'd just make up his mind to do so. We talked several times that day about little things; old times at conventions, people we'd known in PEAPS, about a video tape he'd sent me of a flight on a restored B-17 that he'd taken a few years ago - one of his first flights since leaving the Air Force over 50 years earlier. That evening at the end of the day, we just sat and enjoyed being there with our friends. And that was the whole point. That's always the whole point, really. I'm very glad now that I followed my hunch last year and dropped everything to drive all night to attend Midwestcon for only a day. That was the last time I got to sit and talk with Howard, and it was a very, very good day.
Till the next time, Howard...
I just got off the phone with Karol - Howard's daughter. One of the several things we talked about was how excited Howard was at being named the FGOH for the Worldcon and how much he and his daughters were looking forward to going out there. According to Karol, Howard's last wishes were to have no formal funeral at home, but to be cremated and have some sort of memorial at MidWestCon and the Worldcon. And, he wanted his ashes scattered over water. Karol is considering bringing his ashes out to the Worldcon and arranging to have them scattered over the Pacific. She has to talk to her sisters before any arrangements are made. I wonder if the Worldcon committee would be interested in contacting her to offer some sort of coordination assistance with that? Perhaps at least some sort of announcement in the program book, or possibly even some offering a room (the consuite?) for a memorial service where friends could speak. Just a thought.
Howard was a gunner on a B-17 in WWII, and I suggested to Karol that there might be a possibility of contacting someone who owns one of the few remaining B-17's (I believe one or two of them are based in California) to see if they'd fly Howard's ashes out over the ocean to be scattered. I don't know if that's a realistic idea or not, but...
Howard DeVore was my grandfather - we called him Granddad. He was a truly great man and a huge fan, as you know. I just wanted to tell you how good it makes us all (the family) feel that you're all coming together to remember him. Science Fiction was his passion, and although I'm sure he's somewhere laughing at what a fuss we're making, he must also feel loved and proud. Thank you.
Webmaster's note: we've received word about the Palm Springs Air Museum and the Collings Foundation, both of which apparently have operating B-17's. We've passed the information on.
"How Howard helped Star Trek"
When NBC decided to cancel Star Trek after its second season in 1967, the Trimbles decided to organize a write-in campaign to the network. This was before computers and the Internet, so we had to rely on obtaining mailing lists. We asked but were turned down by several people who had mailing lists, but Bighearted Howard DeVore gave us his list to start the campaign. He also talked others into letting us use their mailing lists. He never got credit for this, though the Trimbles mentioned his name in interviews. So this may surprise many fans to know that without Howard, the Save Star Trek campaign might not have succeeded.
A couple reminiscences:
When our son Bruce was in the 10 or 11 years old category, he inadvertently acted as a "shill" for Howard at some con. Bruce lingered at Howard's tables and homed in on some book -- probably a Lovecraft -- and was restraining his drool; he finally asked, fearfully, how much it was. With a smile, Howard said, "A quarter." Bruce lit up, dug in his pocket for his allowance and happily clutched his prize. An adult customer nearby watched the exchange, sidled up, chose a similar book, and handed it to Howard; "That'll be $5." "Bbbbhut, but but...?" "You wouldn't expect to pay the same price a kid does, would you?" Big grin. The guy grumbled, but he paid.
Big con. Maybe a Worldcon in Cleveland. (That seems right.) Back then, Howard basically controlled the huckster room. (This must have been prior to 1960, because I was selling art from our tables -- and I wouldn't have been if the Fan Art Shows had already begun.) He had the keys. As long as he was selling, he wanted to stay open. In those days, we had no con security but a locked door. Nobody was willing to just walk out if the room was staying open. But it was coming along to 8 PM and all of us were getting pretty hungry. We started pleading with Howard. "C'mon. Let's close up and go eat." Howard looked like a chipmunk whose cheeks had slipped down to his hips; his pants pockets were bulging with coins and money, because he was making out like a bandit at that show. "Nah! I'm fine. I'm still selling. You guys want to quit, go right ahead!" I think it was nearly nine o'clock before he decided no more customers were coming and finally agreed to lock up. We were torn between wanting to lynch him and doubled over with laughter. It was so typical of Howard during that period. As he said when we were leaving the room, "Now admit it: You guys made a few more sales, too, didn't you? Nyah, nyah, nyah!"
Peripherally, one of the more exciting car rides of my life involved being part of a fan car caravan going on a pilgrimage out to Howard's house to view the fabulous collection. (This was probably at Border Cities Con, but might have been Detention.) Exciting because I rode in George Young's part of the caravan. (He'd taken Lynn Hickman's keys away from Lynn and was driving Lynn's car -- advisable, after it became apparent Lynn had tippled so much he didn't remember his wife's name, or his own.) George zipped along Detroit's interesting main streets and side streets at NASCAR speeds -- at one point almost mowing down a beat cop who was about to step off a curb to cross the street. When we arrived at Howard's house I made so bold as to comment on George's driving. Howard laughed and said, "I'll bet he didn't get a ticket. They can't catch him." After which he led us into the attic "vault" for a session of "oohs" and "aahs" over his priceless accumulation of SF and Fantasy treasures. All in a day's/con's entertainment for the Big Heart.
He taught us how to "huck" and we had so many good times in so many wonderful cons that were always enhanced by his presence. From Midwestcons to Border Cities Cons and you name it, it was always, "Hi, glad to see you and there's your tables!" (And if you go back far enough in the Midwestcons, it was "Here, park your car next to mine and open the trunk; let's see what you brought to sell -- and maybe we can work out a deal, wink, wink, nudge, nudge.) And despite so many scurrilous legends on how he was a sharper, I vividly remember him telling the kid in Cincy -- who had to sell his stuff before he left for college -- "Get all you can for those pulps from the other fans here. Whatever you've got left, I'll give you a decent price." AND HE DID.
It truly was a big heart, all joking aside. He will be missed.
Things Howard taught me:
Don't hit women or dogs.
Be frugal -- very frugal.
Another man's trash can fill up all of your empty spaces.
Walk soft and carry a gun.
Always make them question your sanity.
If your neighbours aren't talking about you, you're doing something wrong.
When in doubt, don't throw it out.
Howard DeVore's former caregiver, Joyce Wheaton
I remember Howard being one of those guys who didn't mind questions. It made me, as a neo-fan, feel like it was okay to ask. I always valued his input and sat straighter in my chair when I got an email from him, whether it be to the group, or personal.
He was loyal to N3F, and served as Distributor of the club zine, and as Election Teller for many years. When his health seriously began to fail him, he gave up those duties. Soon after he said he stayed in N3F out of a sense of loyalty but felt useless to the club since he wasn't doing anything for it anymore; and wasn't going to be renewing because of that and finances.
The N3F Yahoo!Group was quickly flooded with YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO LEAVE! We're going to keep you no matter what!
Thus, people donated money for Howard's continued Neffer status (we had wanted to make him a LIFE member, but couldn't because the constitution & bylaws forbade it; however the members made him anyway!). From that came the N3F Angel Fund. People who donate a certain amount of funds for Neffers to renew in times of dire financial need that prevents a beloved Neffer from renewing.
I wish I had gotten the chance to meet him and to get to know him better.
Ad Astra Oh Great Big Hearted One!
Since this may be of some interest to you folks, the March ish of TNFF with Howard Devore's Memorial will be available at N3F.org around the first week of March.
Ruth R. Davidson
I remember visiting Howard's famous Garage with my husband Brian late one sunny afternoon. He took a bottle from the shelf in his office, uncorked it and took a big drink. Without missing a beat, he handed me the bottle and said "Have some!" not wanting to be rude, I took a hearty swig. I nearly choked on the 100+ proof corn whiskey!! The burn was horrible!! I coughed and sputtered while Howard laughed his mighty laugh. He loved playing jokes on people.
One year his wonderful family had a birthday party for him and invented a game for him. All of his friends were invited to send in a funny memory on a 3x5 card. Each card was read and Howard had to guess who wrote it. Damn if he didn't remember just about every dirty trick and practical joke he ever pulled! It was an awesome evening full of Howard's Big Hearted adventures, stories and memories. I will always remember that Big Hearted guy.
A Little Piece of My Heart
or Remembering Howard DeVore
By Earl Kemp
Sometime in the early 1950s, my science fiction story began. By now it feels as if I've told the tale a thousand times, only each time it's different, and for an entirely different reason. This time it's for the Good Times.it's for my brother Big Hearted Howard DeVore, only the story begins just a little earlier than that.
After exchanging a few letters with Mari Wolf (who was conducting "Fandora's Box" for William Hamling's *Imagination),* she insisted upon connecting me with local Chicago active fan Ed Wood. In fear and trepidation, at her insistence and by prearrangement, I went to meet the exalted co-editor of *The Journal of Science Fiction*. At the time, Ed introduced me to his other editor half, Charles Freudenthal, who remains today the single oldest fan friend I have that is still alive and reasonably coherent.
Science fiction fandom must have been in a sorry state back then, otherwise there's no possible explanation for the things that were done to me and the expectations expected of me and the glorious rewards heaped gratuitously upon me. It seemed that Ed Wood knew absolutely everyone involved with science fiction at the time, as well as lots of juicy gossip about them and their favorite proclivities. He immediately began expanding my knowledge base to include the University of Chicago Science Fiction Club that rapidly became my home away from home. He reached out further to the extent of local Midwest fandom and, through snail mail (how did we ever manage to do anything without email?), gave me to Cleveland, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Warsaw, Ann Arbor, and Detroit, among other places and other fan groups.
Every one of them as apparently eager as Ed Wood to get their hands on me, and none quite so eager as that filthy used book dealer, Howard DeVore of Detroit. I was piss poor at the time, married and with children, working at a minimum wage slave job. I couldn't afford food much less fandom. I could hardly scrape up the few pennies it cost then to mail letters, much less buy books, however used and however filthily hustled by Howard DeVore.
Only none of that seemed to matter to Howard. He *gave* me books. He gave me everything I even thought I might need or want in the way of sf publications including some I'd never even heard about. He gave my children comic books in abundance and uncle things, once I realized he was my long lost brother and, regardless of what I did or how hard I tried, there was no way I could shake him or his generosity. Big Hearted was never the right description of him; it's much too small.
At Howard's insistence, and his contacts with regional movers and shakers, he arranged with some of his friends (Dr. C.L. Barrett, "Doc" and Jeannie Smith, Don and Margaret Ford, Ed and Leigh Hamilton, Phil and Betty Farmer, and a host of lesser lights and brighter persons than I could ever hope to be) to drag me kicking and screaming to a big private party in Bellefontaine, Ohio at a ratty old wood-frame lakeside resort known as Beatley's on the Lake that, naturally, had been renamed Beastley's just for the sf party crowd.
In those days I hadn't even heard of science fiction conventions, or knew that they existed or what they were or that they were heaven on earth. But that was then and definitely not now when those wonderfully comfortable gatherings have grown to the size of large cities and populated with thousands of people I would never ever want to encounter for any reason.
In fact, I didn't know who Barrett, Smiths, Fords, Hamiltons, or Farmers were, except that they were fellow sf readers and fans like me and Ed and Chuck and the UofC crowd that was home to my second longest living fan friend, Frankie Robinson.
And when I arrived at Beastley's, being driven there from Lorraine, Ohio by Dr. Barrett himself, I met a bunch of other, similarly inclined fans like Bobs Bloch and Tucker, Marty "Gnome Press" Greenberg, the ever lovely Evelyn *"Galaxy*" Gold, Arthur C. "Ego" Clarke, Reva "The Bat" Smiley, Fred Prophet, Lou Tabakow.and that reprehensible giver, Howard DeVore. Was I dead? Had I actually made the grade? Was that all there was?
Was it enough?
Later that same year, at ChiCon II, my very first real science fiction Worldcon, I ran into most of those same people again only this time they were S*T*A*R*S of the first magnitude and no longer just simple fans like me. They were suddenly, somehow very far elevated above me and I could not shake off the awe they inspired just looking at them, daring occasionally to touch one of them.the very same down-and-dirty sf fans who had partied with me outrageously only months earlier at Beastley's on the Lake. My inherent lack of self respect kept me at arms length from my fan friends now turned cosmic icons. It took a long time for me to actually accept the offerings they were holding out to me.
I was, as the cliché says, hooked, lined, and sinkered. And that was only the beginning. At Howard's insistence, and others, and with only pennies in my pockets, all of midwestern fandom opened its arms to me. There was Ray Beam in Indianapolis, Noreen Falasca in Cleveland, Dean McLaughlin in Ann Arbor (along with "the kid" Alexei Panshin), the down-home Grennells in Fondulac, the F*A*B*U*L*O*U*S Coulsons in Wabash, the snobbish and bigoted Economous in Milwaukee, and far too many more to even remember. And everywhere I went, it seemed, Howard was there, ready and waiting with his arms open and filled with used books and magazines just for the taking, and I took.
You can't refuse a brother anything, any more than you can your own children, however unworthy.
We (a gaggle of Chicago fans) would crowd ourselves terribly into borrowed cars and head out for almost any sort of fan gathering that beckoned to us in those days, traveling hundreds of miles just to attend a Really Good party. And everywhere I went, it seemed, Howard was there. Everywhere I went, it seemed, was old home week.a family reunion.orgasmic ecstasy unbound.
As time passed, and I found better paying jobs, my fanac increased correspondingly and I began editing *Destiny* as a genzine and *SaFari* for SAPS (and later for FAPA). And I became politically active sfwise, and even that was mostly because of Howard, who was even more politically active than I, to the point of bidding for a Worldcon for Detroit. And he (with the help of Dirce Archer of Pittsburgh) nurtured my lust for egoboo until I began my own bid for a Worldcon for Chicago.
Ah, political intrigue. Ah, wheeling and dealing. Ah, underhanded, under-the-counter secret agreements. Ah, bait and switch.
This was not only at the Worldcon level, but stretched to include the regional conventions as well, the Midwestcon being the most delightful of all of them. That was where Howard and I and the rest of the gang that we could tolerate to be around would really let go and howl like blithering idiots until none of us could drink any more or howl any more or do anything except collapse into unconscious heaps of burned-out fandom.
Ah, Pittsburgh. Hello, Dirce, "Sky" Miller, Kelly and Polly Freas. Hello, Howard, how the hell are you? Damn fine convention, old friend.
Ah, Detroit. Hello "Howard's boys" Roger Sims, George Young, and Bill Rickhardt) Hello, Howard, how the hell are you? Damn fine convention, old friend.
Ah, Chicago. Hello UofC SF Club. Hello, Howard, how the hell are you? Damn fine convention, old friend.
Noreen Falasca's "church group."
Posing in front of the Falasca residence are, (L to R): Howard DeVore, Lou
Tabakow (in profile), ___ unknowns. Ben Jason (holding sign), Lewis Grant,
Jon Stopa, Jim O'Meara, ___unknowns. Then, at extreme right, Earl Kemp
standing behind Noreen and Nick Falasca, Steve Schultheis (kneeling in front
Cleveland, Ohio, photo dated October 1957. Any help identifying unknowns
will be greatly appreciated.
Private parties were something else in those days, literally difficult to explain because of their complexities and the personalities involved with making them unbelievably special. The Falascas were Hosts Unparalleled in Cleveland during those years. Everyone from 200 miles around in any direction would gather there with little provocation and relax, letting go, posing for group photos to remember it all by. "My church group," Noreen told her super-curious neighbors.
Halloween parties at my house in Chicago. Howard DeVore in drag.deliberately tattered pantyhose, huge attention-getting handbag, big floppy hat over his rubber gorilla full-head mask with garish lipstick and all.Lady Greystoke.bitch mother and suckler of Tarzan of the Apes. Could anything ever be any finer? Photographs by the dozens but all lost, gone forever, not one image of Howard as the Great Apeness (if there is such a word) remains today.
Clichés of time took me away from paradise and dumped me into San Diego and an entirely different kind of life and a mind-altering, conscious-expanding, day-to-day existence of bumming around the world in my own time and at my own pace and all on a lavish expense account. For the first time in decades, I was too busy to stop long enough to enjoy the view or to smell the roses.
Still, somehow, Howard managed to keep track of me when almost all others could not.
Decades of disgrace and self-punishing exile later, I pulled myself out of my hiding place only to find Howard standing there, still waiting, his arms still open and still giving, giving, giving. Partially at his insistence (with a lot of help from Bill Burns), I began something impossibly different for me -- publishing my ezine eI online. Howard was a frequent contributor with his wit and entertaining stories of Post Office fuckups and fan days past.
And now he is gone, my real adopted brother, and as I write these words I find myself crying for him again, as I did upon hearing of his death, and that my name was the first on his list of people he wanted notified when that big heart fluttered with its last beat.
I love you, man. Wherever you are I know, I feel, I am positive your arms are still open and you are still giving, giving, giving..
Forever is a long, long time.
I promised you well over a year ago to meet you in Los Angeles later this year at the 2006 Worldcon to celebrate with you the honor you so rightly deserve. I'm sorry we can't do it as planned, Howard, but keep those arms open for me and a watchful eye out for me.we'll do it up right together when next we meet.
* - - - *
The spellings of names in this piece are all from bad memory and I apologize to everyone for not getting them right. Special thanks to Earl Terry Kemp for furnishing the photos for this piece and to Robert Lichtman for vetting it.
by Chad Childers
Howard DeVore was a great friend, not just a great jokester and raconteur. My memory has never been as good as his, but here is the way I remember it. Howard published a zine called Grandfather Stories in many APAs over the years. I had the pleasure of typing up a few of those contributions as Howard dictated, and editing a few more... it was a pleasure to participate, a little bit, in telling some of his stories. When I first met Howard, he was still running his printing press to put out misleading and humorous broadsides, but, after the big printing press got so covered in junk that he couldn't use it, once in awhile I would get a phone call because he had gotten another idea for a joke. When Bob Shaw married Nancy Tucker in 1995, we put together a memorial edition of his Fansmanship Lectures for the event under the Misfit Press imprinteur. One year for pulpcon, he decided he wanted dust jackets for such rare books as The Bobbsey Twins go to The Whorehouse and Tom Swift and His Flying F***. Howard got such a kick out of it when someone walked by his table and actually believed one of his whoppers, even for a moment. My friendship with Howard started when we noticed that we were wearing the same t-shirt, which said "Detroit: Where the weak are Killed and Eaten." I think this was the first sign that we had the same twisted sense of humor, and started a history of being a bad influence on each other and terrorizing everyone else.
Howard being a bad influence on his grandsons, Jesse and Ian: I've always been impressed with Howard's cool and calm attitude in the face of my rather dangerous driving, one time, on the way back from somewhere on an icy curve, my car ended up sliding sideways while I wrestled for control and got it back onto the dry concrete. Howard sat there calmly, and didn't say a word until we'd pulled off and were driving at a sedate pace through the suburbs, when he simply said. "You might want to drive a little slower." Our driving exploits were memorialized by Tom Sadler in a story in The Reluctant Famulus, illustrated by a drawing of us riding in my car, up on two wheels - in the story, we fought a killer robot, which was eventually conquered by showing it a picture of Howard in his underwear; this caused the poor robot's head to fly off!
In 2001, Howard and I shared a great experience, going on the EAA B-17 Aluminum Overcast. His daughters and I were a little bit nervous, but again, he was an island of calm, commenting on how new the plane looked without any bullet holes or patches in it. He told me about crawling down into the ball turret, and said about the fantastic view from the bombardier's seat, up in the nose surrounded by plexiglass, with your feet dangling over thin air, surrounded by sky, "imagine that when flak's coming at you!" After the flight, his daughter went to the crew chief to get his WW2 logbook signed - he said he wanted to collect his flight pay!
Front page, Dearborn Hts Press & Guide, Sep 6, 2001, misinformation by Richard Marsh: "Howard DeVore, 76, had not been in a plane since he was discharged from the Army Air Corps at the end of World War II. The 46-year resident of Dearborn Heights, a bombardier in Europe during the war, took his first plane ride in 55 years Monday, ironically in a B-17, the same kind of aircraft he flew in World War II. The special Labor Day excursion was a private flight sponsored by Ford Motor Co. The short flight took six people from Willow Run Airport to the Pontiac area and back to Willow Run. DeVore's friend, Chad Childers, also a WWII Army Air Corps vet, made the opportunity possible. 'Ever since he got out of the air corps, he's refused to go up in a plane, even when a relative of ours worked for an airline and could get us free tickets,' said Karol Sissom of Livonia, one of DeVore's three daughters. 'When he told us he decided to go on this flight, we said, 'Dad, you haven't been in a plane in 55 years, and now you're going up in a plane that's 65 to 70 years old?.' His answer to his daughters was that he was ready for one last great adventure. Sissom and her sisters, Cheryl Walker and Suzanne Reynolds, went out to Willow Run to see their dad off on his first plane ride in more than a half-century.
DeVore said he would have like to have sat one more time in the bombardier's space, but he had gained too much weight since his military days." Actually, Howard was a ball turret gunner, not a bombardier, and I cannot for the life of me imagine how he ever fit in that ball. I fit in his bomber jacket a lot better than he did, and we both got a great kick out of the fact that the newspaper somehow decided that I was an Army Air Corps vet too. Of course, I was the bombardier. Help the bombardier!
Big Hearted Howard never stopped giving help to everybody whose life he touched. Only a week or two before he died, we were talking about some problems with a house I wanted to buy, and he offered to come out with me and look at it that weekend. We'd been talking about going to Sharon's Stilyagi party, and I told him that if he wasn't feeling well enough to go to the party, I wasn't going to make him go out and do that for me. but I think he actually got the strength to go on from the many people he was always helping. He made friends with the owners of two local independent bookstores, and always kept an eye out for them. One time it was a set of shelves, he found, boxes of books from his endeavors as a bookscout, anything he could do to help Kathy or Al. I have a few friends that I think of that much. but Howard's heart was big enough that he had at least five or ten people that he loved that much, plus his daughters and grandkids, who he loved even more. Howard's 80th birthday party last year was a beautiful thing. His daughters & grandkids made several nice collages & displays of old pictures & SF stuff, seven of his friends & all the family except the grandson who is in Turkmenistan with the Peace Corps showed up, even one great-grandson. My girlfriend pointed out that it was great evidence that Howard had a successful life... his kids turned out well, the grandkids were actually helping out quite a lot and being the hosts for the party. what are the percentage chances of having three teenagers nowadays that all turned out to be nice kids? There was quite a lot passing around of photo albums and "who is in that picture?" including E.E. "Doc" Smith, Gene Rodennberry, Bob Tucker, Ben Bova, and Isaac Asimov.
Four of the birthday party crowd were guys he'd known over 50 years, Elliott Broderick, Dean McLaughlin, George Young, and Fred Prophet. All of them, incidentally, were on the concom for the 1959 Detroit Worldcon - the only one missing was Roger Sims, who lives in Florida now. It may indicate that I'm old-fashioned, or a dirty old man before my time that I have so much in common with Howard, but there were also a small younger crowd of Howard's friends in attendance: me, Kathy from the bookstore, and Sharon Myers Shaw. Hmm, I just realized that I was the only one of Howard's younger friends who happens to be male. do you think that might be significant?
It is hard for me to say goodbye to Howard. I felt like I couldn't get my words to come out right at his wake last week at ConFusion, but I kept getting choked up. Mike Glickson and Larry Tucker did a much better job of saying the right thing, they started telling jokes, like when Larry said he wished he could call Howard up and tell him, "Hey, did you hear, Howard DeVore died!". I think many of us probably got those calls from Howard, when we lost Busby, Hedwig Biggle, and any number of other people who I *didn't* know, Larry was absolutely right. He got us laughing, not just feeling sad, and that's exactly what Howard would have wanted. I try to find deep and meaningful morals in things. At the wake, I was trying to say that Howard was a walking embodiment of Jophan, from the way he looked out for Lynn Hickman's son Mark, to how Ted McAdam's son Pete showed up at his wake to pay his respects. My moral was that he was a great example in the way he took care of us, and we in Fandom should take care of each other in his memory. Larry caught me out when I misremembered something from his movie Faans, though, and I don't think anybody could make heads or tails of my lofty sentiments.
There's a better moral, though, one that Howard would have loved. One time, when my heart was breaking over some femmefan who had just dumped me, I remember Howard and I went and sat on his front porch to talk about it. He thought about it, and he realized just how important she was to me, and how important she was in the great scheme of things, and he said, "Remember, women are like streetcars. There'll be another one along any minute." Howard never passed up an opportunity to make a pass at a pretty girl. He was terribly disappointed when he couldn't get the mundane bridesmaids at a wedding at the con hotel drunk enough to take wheelchair rides in his lap last year, like he did the year before. Howard was a great example. whenever we would talk about my friend Marie Miesel, whom I adore, he would reminisce over what a fine looking woman her mother, Sandra, was. So all of you in fandom, raise a glass of whiskey and drink it, in memory of him. and when you make a pass at a pretty girl, do that in memory of him too. Amen and God Bless you all!
All photos and text Copyleft under the Creative Commons License by Chad Childers, all fannish use permitted.