Dave Kyle Remembered in Photos

Andrew Porter shared these photos of Dave Kyle taken at various Worldcons over the decades. All but the first were taken by Porter himself.

Here is Dave at NyCon II, sitting with bow tie and dark glasses; Larry Shaw at podium, John Campbell and Robert Silverberg to Kyle's left. Porter says, "Not my photo; I was 10 years old."

Here is Dave chairing NyCon II: seated with bow tie and dark glasses; Larry Shaw at podium, John Campbell and Robert Silverberg to Kyle’s left. Porter says, “Not my photo; I was 10 years old.”

Sidney Coleman, Dave Kyle and James White at the 1987 Worldcon. Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter

Sidney Coleman, Dave Kyle and James White at the 1987 Worldcon. Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter

Walter A. Willis, left, James White, center, and Dave Kyle in 1987. Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter

Walter A. Willis, left, James White, center, and Dave Kyle in 1987. Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter

Lloyd Eshbach, left, Dave Kyle, center, and Erle Korshak at the 1988 New Orleans Worldcon. Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter

Lloyd Eshbach, left, Dave Kyle, center, and Erle Korshak at the 1988 New Orleans Worldcon. Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter

Dave Kyle avd Chuck Harris at the 1995 Glasgow Worldcon. Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter

Dave Kyle and Chuck Harris at the 1995 Glasgow Worldcon. Photo by and copyright © Andrew Porter

Rich Lynch and Dave Kyle at ConFrancisco in 1993. Photo and copyright © Andrew Porter

Rich Lynch and Dave Kyle at ConFrancisco in 1993. Photo and copyright © Andrew Porter

Andrew Porter wrote about Dave Kyle’s passing:

Yesterday, I saw Dave at Bill and Mary Burns’s End-of-Summer party in Hempstead, Long Island, NY, where he was very frail, but his mind remained sharp and clear. I’m happy to say that many of his fan friends, some of whom he’s known for many decades, were there to greet him and have long talks with him.

Dave was one of science fiction fandom’s very few remaining links (with perhaps only Robert A. Madle and Erle M. Korshak) to pre-World War II fandom, and to the very first World SF Convention. His passing diminishes the field, and pulls the curtain a little tighter between those living today, and the world and fandom as it was.

7 thoughts on “Dave Kyle Remembered in Photos

  1. When Ruth Kyle died in 2011 I wrote this reminiscence of her, and I hope AC and Kerry won’t mind my reprising it here, as it says as much about Dave as it does about Ruth. Both of them were very kind to me as a teenage fan in England in the 1960s, and later in the USA, and we remained good friends since I first met Dave in 1965, and Ruth soon after.

    Written in 2011:

    When 25-year-old Ruth Landis, a minister’s daughter and science fiction reader from New Jersey, showed up at Clevention in 1955, little did she know what the next 55 years would bring.

    According to Dave Kyle, writing in Mimosa #10 (July 1991), Ruth had read about the Cleveland Worldcon in Astounding Science Fiction, and, like so many fans, decided she wanted to meet some of the authors and editors behind the stories. It didn’t take long before she was spotted sitting alone in the con suite by TAFF delegate Ken Bulmer and his wife Pamela. Dave had met Ken and Pam in England earlier that year, and, kind souls that they were, the Bulmers immediately mentioned the presence of that rarity at a 1950s convention, an unattached pretty girl, to eligible bachelor Lieutenant Colonel David A. Kyle, U.S.A.F. (retired).

    Dave himself has told the story in great detail, so suffice it to say that after a number of misfortunes and misunderstandings, including Isaac Asimov’s spiriting Ruth off to a party while Dave’s back was turned, the couple finally got together again. In 1956 Ruth moved to New York City from Princeton, New Jersey, where she had been working, and fell in with the then very active SF crowd in Manhattan. Although Dave was involved in running the family radio station, WPDM, in upstate New York’s far-off Potsdam, he kept a flat in Manhattan and was a regular attendee at SF group meetings there. He and Ruth re-connected, their romance blossomed, and Ruth was co-opted as Secretary of the 1956 Worldcon in New York, which Dave was chairing.

    Dave also had plans for the following year, when the Worldcon was to be held outside the USA for the first time, in London. He organized a fan charter flight to England (with Ruth doing much of the administration of the project while Dave was away in Potsdam), and they decided to make it their honeymoon trip – along with 50-odd fans and Dave’s parents! They were married in Manhattan on August 31st, 1957, and two days later the group left New York on the 16-hour flight that began its very successful 18-day trip to London.

    There followed a number of return visits to Britain. Dave and Ruth were welcomed into the relatively small fannish community of the time and became good friends with many fans. Ruth developed an aversion to air travel, so Dave was a more frequent visitor, often hitching rides on military aircraft. But ocean liners still regularly made the Atlantic run, and Ruth didn’t at all mind that mode of transport, so they maintained a regular presence in the UK.

    During the 1960s the Kyles had a son, Arthur (AC) and a daughter, Kerry, who soon became favourites of visiting fans. Dave and Ruth’s hospitality at “Skylee”, their home in Potsdam, was renowned. In 1967 I was a 19-year-old student, and when I mentioned to Dave at Eastercon that year that I was planning a summer-long tour of America by Greyhound bus, he immediately said “Call me collect when you arrive in New York, and I’ll arrange for you to visit fans wherever you go”. He did just that, and in the middle of the 10,000-mile bus trip I arrived in Potsdam, where I was made most welcome. I stayed for several days, during which I made a lightning visit to the World’s Fair in Montreal. This involved catching the bus at 4am one day, and being deposited by the bus coming in the other direction at 4am the next day, but Ruth didn’t blink an eyelid, making sure I got up in time for the bus at that early hour, while Dave drove me to the bus station and picked me up the next day.

    In the late 1960s the family moved to England, renting a house on the River Thames in the London suburb of Weybridge. Keith Freeman has fond memories of the many social events that the Kyles hosted: “Their parties became legend – with Ruth spending an inordinate amount of time slaving over a hot stove… breakfast (dollar pancakes and a contest to see who could eat the most), lunch and dinner – a never-failing supply of delicious food. And yet even with this Ruth joined in all the fun and games and was a fantastic hostess.”

    Not long after, the Kyles bought a rather run-down property nearby. The house and grounds needed a lot of work – but what a location, with the house situated on the south bank of the Thames, and a tributary running along one side of the garden. The first parties at “Two Rivers” were often day-long working events, with fans pitching in to help get the house and garden in shape, and the visitor’s book was eventually filled with the names of British and American fans.

    Keith recalls that Christmas was a special occasion for Ruth: “The turkey (usually the largest her butcher had) would go in on Christmas Eve and one would wake with the whole house filled with the aroma of roast turkey, with AC and Kerry rushing around to see if they could find an adult awake enough to let them get at their presents. The weary tones would come from Ruth, ‘Go back to sleep, we were up until all hours getting the bird ready and watching a lousy film on the TV that David wanted to see…’”

    The Kyles kept up the house in Potsdam; when they moved back to America in the 1970s they also bought a home in Florida, and the hospitality continued in both places. As front man for the couple, Dave sometimes made arrangements for visitors and forgot to mention the details to Ruth. But even when unexpected guests consequently showed up, Ruth remained the gracious hostess and always made them feel welcome.

    Although their trips to Britain became less frequent, Dave and Ruth remained regulars at American Worldcons. Ruth showed an artistic talent with her craft of making elaborately decorated fantasy eggs, which she displayed and sold at conventions. Even as her health started to deteriorate in later life, she would run around the convention center using an electric scooter, but sadly she eventually became housebound, leaving Dave to attend conventions on his own.

    After Ruth died in January 2011, Ted White recalled that he too had first encountered her over 55 years before: “I met her more or less the same time Dave did (although I was a generation younger than Dave), at the 1955 Worldcon in Cleveland. Ruth was a very attractive woman; she looked glamorous to my youthful eye. I liked Ruth and enjoyed her company. She had a warm, friendly personality and always treated me well…which I suspect everyone who knew her could also say.”

    My own lasting memory of Ruth perhaps gives an insight into how she always thought the best of everyone she knew – especially her husband. Dave always was (and still is) a great tease, and his deadpan delivery of even the most far-fetched tale would fool Ruth every time. For decades, when Ruth realized she’d fallen yet again for one of his put-ons, her only response would be an exasperated “Oh, David!”. I can still hear her voice, and see the smile that followed the look she gave him, and that’s how I’ll remember her.

    Bill Burns, March 2011.

    2016 postscript: And that’s how I’ll remember both Ruth and Dave.

  2. As a young Swedish fan in the 1960s, I, too, became enthralled by Dave and Ruth, who I met at NyCon III, 1967, the first foreign convention I attended, but got to know well a few years later, after I began going to the British Eastercons. Their hospitality at “Two Rivers” is a cherished memory, just like their many generous and ongoing convention hotel suite parties, and perhaps most of all the many talks with Dave in bars, lobbies, hotel rooms, restaurants and corridors. For almost fifty years I’ve considered Dave a friend, but also an irreplaceable link to our collective past, and though distance has meant that I’ve seen him much less often than I would have liked to, he has seemed a constant presence. When I thanked him, belatedly, for the Big Heart award unexpectedly bestowed on me at the 2005 Glasgow worldcon, I also told him that I thought his own heart was bigger than those of all the rest of us combined. I still think so. And I will miss him at every gathering of fans I’ll attend in the future.

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