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March 18, 2003

Harry Warner Jr.
Posted by Teresa at 05:58 PM *

From the Hagerstown Herald-Mail Online:

Harry B. Warner Jr.

Harry B. Warner Jr., 80, of 423 Summit Ave., Hagerstown, died Monday, Feb. 17, 2003, at his home.

Graveside services will be Friday at 10 a.m. at Rose Hill Cemetery, Hagerstown. The Rev. David B. Kaplan will officiate.

Arrangements are by Andrew K. Coffman Funeral Home, Hagerstown.
I’m sorry, I don’t feel up to explaining right now. If someone else wants to explain, please feel free.

This is a bad day.

Comments on Harry Warner Jr.:
#1 ::: Bob Webber ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2003, 06:06 PM:

A truly sad day for fandom.

Judging from the time from Harry's death to his funeral, he was a hermit to the end.

#2 ::: Jim Meadows ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2003, 06:36 PM:

I never met Harry Warner Jr., or even corresponded with him. But I felt that I knew him, through his voluminous articles and correspondence to science fiction fanzines when I was active in fandom during the 1970s and '80s.

Because his activity in fandom stretched back to its earliest days in the 1930s, he brought a sense of perspective to squabbles and debates that I think a lot of us lacked. And he wrote about fandom's history well, in several articles, and in books like "All Our Yesterdays" and "A Wealth of Fable". I never did track down the latter book, but I did read All Our Yesterdays, about fandom in the 1930s. I remember it for recounting a very particular social and literary phenomenon with affection and a level-headed sense of proportion.

I know very little about Harry's life, except that he was a newspaper reporter living in Hagerstown, Pennsylvania. I'm surprised that the sketchy newspaper obituary did not at least mention that fact.

It was only during my last years of reading fanzines that I noticed any heated expressions of opinion from Harry, regarding former President Richard Nixon and Watergate. I believe by that time he had retired from the newspaper business, and perhaps felt more free to express his views. And, maybe he found national politics to be more befitting a passionate view that our little hobby.

But I'm sure fandom was more than a little hobby to Harry Warner Jr. This eccentric community must have meant a great deal to him. I know he meant a great deal to it.

#3 ::: Avedon ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2003, 07:17 PM:

Hagerstown, MD. I've posted a little something at The Sideshow in his honor.

In the immortal words of Peter Cook: "Julie Andrews!"

#4 ::: Bill Higgins ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2003, 07:26 PM:

We never corresponded, but Harry's books meant a lot to me.

I've passed the word on to rec.arts.sf.fandom.

#5 ::: Damien Warman ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2003, 08:10 PM:

I shall miss his very closely spaced typewritten pages.

#6 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2003, 09:50 PM:

If someone were to write a biography of Harry Warner Jr., I suspect it would have to be titled THE IMMORTAL CALM.

(I -never- saw him lose his temper in print. Even in some of the most trying fanhistorical times he always seemed one of the few islands of sanity in feuding, fractious fandom.)

#7 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: March 18, 2003, 10:03 PM:

Just thought of something:

I may be misremembering, but I seem to recall that some years back Harry had made provisions for the preservation of his accumulated fanzines in the event of his death.

But if I remember correctly... he willed them to Bruce Pelz.

Oh dear. I hope Harry updated his will after Pelz' unexpected death last year.

#8 ::: Lenny Bailes ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2003, 03:05 AM:

For all of the time since I started publishing fanzines, in the early 1960s, Harry's letters of comment have always been exactly two pages long. Although, I'm told, he no longer responded to every single fanzine sent to him by the 1990s, he managed to do just that for a stretch of almost fifty years.

In the latter half of his letter-writing career, he would use the contents of a fanzine to spin off his own observations about life, the universe, and everything. In addition to liking Julie Andrews, he was a classical music buff who enjoyed playing the piano. One thing that still sticks with me is the encouragement he sent me (when I was 17 years old) to keep writing and publishing music. I'd published some musical settings of doggerel verse from Thurber's "The 13 Clocks" and from Tolkien in a couple of fanzines. Harry took the time to play my settings on his piano and told me that he enjoyed them.

In the '40s and '50s, Harry was a sharp, acerbic reporter with both professional and amateur careers. He wrote for The Hagerstown Journal for over thirty years. (In a recent fanzine article, he revealed that he also put in a pre-WWII stint as a news broadcaster for the Hagerstown radio station. He preferred newspaper reporting to radio "news announcing.")

In our shared mimeograph time, before computers, Internets and weblogs, Harry was a friendly legend for successive generations of amateur writer/publishers. He paid attention to all of us, posting without fail to all of our comment sections.

#9 ::: Moshe Feder ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2003, 04:10 AM:

Fannish history used to be divided into numbered "fandoms" (modeled on the successive human races of Stapledon's Last and First Men). No one's kept up the scheme in recent decades. Perhaps we're up to 18th or 25th fandom by now, I don't know. But those fandoms are as but weeks in the cosmic year that was the fannish era that has ended with Harry Warner's passing. He was not just our historian, he was our living link to our origins. No one else has ever continuously published a fanzine across eight decades, nor is likely to do so. No one else has ever written letters of comment on over 12,000 fanzines, nor is likely to do so. He was unique.

I enjoyed correspondence with Harry and a number of phone calls, but only one in-person visit. Accompanied by Linda Bushyager, Hank Davis, and Toni Weiskopf, I visited him in 1990 to videotape an interview to be shown at Corflu 7 in New York. He was a gracious host and, despite his reputation as a hermit, the sort of thoughtful nice guy with a good, quick sense of humor who would have done very well at conventions, if he'd chosen to attend more of them. Meeting him, seeing his famous house, getting a glimpse into that notorious attic, was a highlight of my fannish career I will never forget.

I'm not aware that he ever intended to leave his zines to Bruce. He told us in '90 that he was planning to donate his collection to the University of Syracuse, as suggested to him by Dick Wilson. I hope he did, or made other comparable arrangements. If not, we'd better act fast. I hope we can save the fannish treasures he accumulated, but they're not Harry, or even his ghost. His spirit is in all those thousands of pages of letters and fanzines, and there it will live for us as long as there are fans to read them.

To the best of my knowledge, Harry has no living relatives. Fanzine fans everywhere are his survivors. It is to us condolences should be addressed.

We will never forget him.

#10 ::: Alison Scott ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2003, 10:37 AM:

I too was very sad to hear this news, though, as I remarked to people in chat yesterday, we'd assumed he wasn't well because he stopped sending us letters. I was sad to see such a short obituary for a person who was such a huge and important part of our subculture.

#11 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2003, 11:08 AM:

Ave atque vale

#12 ::: Robert Lichtman ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2003, 11:18 PM:

Bruce Arthurs "remembers" that Harry left his fanzine collection to Bruce Pelz. Not so. Back in the mid '90s Harry wrote to me for advice because the library with which he'd made arrangements to take his fanzine collection upon his death had backed out. After considerable thought I suggested that his collection join Terry Carr's and Rick Sneary's in the Eaton SF Collection at the University of California at Riverside. He thought this was a fine idea, and said he'd changed his will, even adding funding to cover packing and transportation. Last summer, after he read that Bruce's collection of some 200,000 fanzines had gone to the Eaton Collection, he wrote in either FAPA or SAPS that it might be best if he changed his plans again. He thought they'd have no use for his collection on top of Bruce's monster contribution. I don't know if he ever did so, though. I've made some inquiries concerning this, though, and will report further anything I learn through the usual fannish outlets (i.e., Trufen & Memory Hole).

--Robert Lichtman, March 19, 2003

#13 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: March 19, 2003, 11:56 PM:

I'm glad to hear I was wrong. I've been mostly inactive in fanzine fandom since the mid-80's, and the conversation I "remembered" may well have been from that time or earlier.

(I think the memory came from a casual conversation with Bruce Pelz at a convention, but it may have been that Pelz only said something like "I'd be glad to take them.")

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