Edward S. Kessell, Pulpcon Founder (1930-2008)

The SFWA News reports that pulp magazine fan Edward S. Kessell (b. October 6, 1930) passed away on June 4, 2008. He ran the dealers room at the 1969 St. Louis World Science Fiction Convention, and with others organized the first Pulpcon, also held in St. Louis in 1972.

Mr. Kessell was a devoted teacher, respected mentor and theatrical director. During his 25 years at Florissant Valley Community College he created, and ran, the Touring Children’s Theater which traveled to area schools.

He is survived by his wife Florann and children Michael, Steven and Geoff.

A graveside service was held on Sunday June 8 at Beth Hamedrosh Hagodol Cemetery in St. Louis, Missouri. Contributions in his memory may be made to Family Resource Center, 3309 S. Kingshighway, St. Louis, MO, 63139 or to the Humane Society of Missouri.

Walker Martin wrote this appreciation online:

Ed Kessell was one of the good guys in pulp fandom. He organized and put on the first Pulpcon in 1972 in St Louis. My wife and I attended it and when we arrived at the hotel Ed Kessell was at the registration desk almost having a nervous breakdown. He was overjoyed to see us because he was worried since there was almost no advance registration at all. There was a good chance no one would show up and the whole show would be a disaster. Fortunately it was a success though he did lose money and there has been a Pulpcon every year since the first in 1972. Three main things made the show a big success: Ed Kessell, Nils Hardin, who sold thousands of pulps, and the nine Walter Baumhofer original oil pulp paintings, all with a minimum bid of only $75.00. Many went for the minimum and I got two for only around a $100.00 each.

Ed was so excited during the weekend that he kept forgetting to put on his toupee. Half the time he was bald and half the time he had hair. That Sunday he put on a cook out at his house and afterwards I swore I’d never miss a Pulpcon if I could help it. Over 35 years later I’ve only missed a couple and it’s all because of the pioneer work of Ed Kessell. Years later he was a guest of honor and Pulpcon paid him back the money he had lost. Rest in Peace Ed.

[Thanks also to Andrew Porter for the Martin quote.]

Update 7/2/2008: Corrected names indicated in Geoff Kessell’s comment.

1 thought on “Edward S. Kessell, Pulpcon Founder (1930-2008)

  1. Hi – This is Ed Kessell’s youngest son, Geoff. Thanks for your thoughtful post about my dad’s contributions to pulp fandom. It was a great love of his and I’m sure he’d be thrilled and a little embarrassed to get the recognition he deserves. We all miss him much but it’s been a great help to see how many people he touched in his life. Thanks again. Geoff

    P.S. – One correction to the obituary: my mom (Ed’s wife) is Florann Kessell. Linda is his brother’s wife. Don’t know how that got confused but it’s not a big deal.

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