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RIP: LeeH

I just received email from Aaron Rennert. He wrote:

"To those who are her friends or knew her, please be advised that Lee Hoffman died of a massive heart attack last night (Tuesday)."

Her website, put up by her nephew, Gary, confirms it with this brief statement: "Note: Lee passed away on February 6, 2007."

LeeH was a classic. I think she packed a couple hundred years worth of living in the 74 she was here. She certainly packed that much fanac in. From Nolacon in 1951, where Bob Tucker claimed to have dropped his towel on discovering that she was a girl, to the glory of Sixth Fandom that was Quandry, a Worldcon FanGoHship at Chicon IV in 1982, and all through it all, the complete charm of the fanzine that came out once every five years: Science-Fiction Five-Yearly. (That link takes you to the current issue. All of the back issues are at the Fanac website.)

LeeH was also the publisher of two folk music fanzines: Gardyloo and Caravan. She distributed NLCRA Blue Eagle tags around Washington Square in an early example of guerilla marketing. NLCRA stands for the New Lost City Ramblers Appreciators. She packed sandwiches for Dave Van Ronk when he and other musicians headed to Chicago during union riots there.

Gary Hoffman said it better on the website he built for her: "Lee Hoffman is one of those marvelous people who defy being categorized. Her fascinating life has spanned a wide spectrum of human endeavors. Amateur archaeologist, artist, author, horsewoman, race car inspector, where does one begin? You might find her sipping wine in New York or sampling the waters of the Okeefenokee Swamp. If you find her relaxing in front of a radio, she may be listening to folk music or to police dispatches. The clack-clacking in the next room might be Lee writing a novel, or disassembling the typewriter to see how it works."

I'm especially saddened by the timing -- at Corflu this coming weekend the Science-Fiction Five-Yearly contributors planned to record their articles and we were going to send a CD of them to her after the convention. LeeH had become blind in the last years of her life and was unable to read SFFY #12 herself. In particular, Ted White wrote "Case No 770," his charming, heart-warming piece of faan fiction, in homage to her, and I'm sorry, so very sorry that we didn't get it to her in time for her to hear his every word.

Yes, LeeH was a classic, and then some. I met her at Tropicon, in December, 1988, when Edie Stern enticed Walter and Madeleine Willis to be FanGoHs there. I started working with LeeH in 1990, after rich brown enticed me to serve as guest editor-publisher of Science-Fiction Five-Yearly #9. Jeff Schalles joined me as co-editor for that issue, and the next two as well. We enticed other fans to help along the way. Most recently, Randy Byers and I put out what's turned out to be the last issue of SFFY just three months ago. In 2000, LeeH handed the future of the fanzine over to me. I've always felt that it should exist as long as she did, and then go out with her. Randy and I will have to find other projects to collaborate on. Oh, wait, we already have. Randy pulled me in to help with the publication of Steve Stiles TAFF report, which is fresh off the presses and will be available at Corflu.

I'm rambling. Grief sucks. Even when it's for someone who lived a long full life, or several long, full lives all wrapped up in one. It was an honor to know Lee Hoffman. It was an honor to work with her. It was an honor to join Edie Stern, Avedon Carol, and Jeanne Gomoll by being named the Lee Hoffman of a decade. Much as I know I did well by her in many respects, I wish so very much I'd done better.

Sympathy to all who knew, loved, and admired her.

Comments

( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
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damascene
Feb. 8th, 2007 02:55 am (UTC)
sorrysorrysorry

::hugs::
tnh
Feb. 8th, 2007 02:56 am (UTC)
Thank you, Geri.

I couldn't find anything to say, so I just put up a collection of links at ML. I've added your piece to that list.
dsgood
Feb. 8th, 2007 03:10 am (UTC)
Shit!

Lee Hoffman was one of the nicest people I met in fandom, and one of the most interesting.
jcbemis
Feb. 8th, 2007 03:36 am (UTC)
Oh no! What a loss...

(speechless)
elisem
Feb. 8th, 2007 03:58 am (UTC)
*large hugs from here, too*
minnehaha
Feb. 8th, 2007 04:08 am (UTC)
Wow, such a loss. I am sorry.

What does being named Lee Hoffman of a decade mean?

K.
gerisullivan
Feb. 8th, 2007 07:10 am (UTC)
That's a good question.

It seemed to be the kind of thing people said in recognition of...hmmm...a certain kind of fanac, or flair, or presence...yes, to mark a certain presence in fandom. LeeH came into fandom with a big (and very good) splash in the 1950s. In many ways (or from my perspective), Sixth Fandom gelled around her. Avedon Carol was the Lee Hoffman of the '70s, Jeanne Gomoll was the Lee Hoffman of the '80s, and soon after, I was being referred to as the Lee Hoffman of the '90s. Edie Stern was quite possibly the first Lee Hoffman of her time. In Edie's case, I think it transcends the mere labels of decades. I haven't heard of anyone being named the Lee Hoffman of the aughties; it may be a label whose time has drawn to a close, or maybe it's just taking a while for the current one to show up. tnh is another one of those people who could easily be a LeeH for all time.
randy_byers
Feb. 8th, 2007 04:31 am (UTC)
Corflu becomes a memorial.
kate_schaefer
Feb. 8th, 2007 05:56 am (UTC)
I'm so sorry. She's been in fandom for so very long that it seemed she should be older than God by now, or at least older than 74.

You did do well by her, and it's a fine thing that she was able to see SFFY 12.
voidampersand
Feb. 8th, 2007 06:10 am (UTC)
Thank you, Geri. My acquaintance with LeeH is only through other fans and fanwriting, but she is someone that I've always looked up to.
bohemiancoast
Feb. 8th, 2007 08:17 am (UTC)
This is such sad news. A great tribute.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 8th, 2007 10:46 am (UTC)
Another fragment of the past gone
I learned what fandom could be from Walt Willis's writings, as collected in Warhoon 28. Lee was a big part of that: though I never met her, a little part of my youth has died.

John Dallman
lauriemann
Feb. 8th, 2007 10:54 am (UTC)
I'd always enjoyed Lee's writing and am sad to hear she's no longer with us.
beamjockey
Feb. 8th, 2007 12:57 pm (UTC)
Oh, no.

I didn't know her, but she laid many bricks in the edifice that is Fandom, and I thank her for that,
netmouse
Feb. 8th, 2007 01:00 pm (UTC)
*hug*

I'm glad I read "Case No 770" before this news came, in that it gave me slightly more appreciation of this woman I regret having never met. I'm glad that she was in your life, and lived such a full life, and I wish I could say something better to comfort you in your grief.

debgeisler
Feb. 8th, 2007 03:04 pm (UTC)
Lee Hoffman and I never met. The loss of her doesn't directly impact on me...but indirectly?

She enrichened the lives of those I love and respect. Your tribute to her means she was beautiful and vibrant and wonderful.

I'm so very sorry that her passing brings you inevitable grief, but I'm very glad her being brought such joy.
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