Patricia Rogers gave this speech at Jack Speer’s memorial on July 8:
It is hard to know where to start to tell you about Jack Speer’s importance in the history of Science Fiction Fandom. His influence, creativity, and nearly endless energy touches every aspect of fandom. For those in fandom now: words like Filking and APA are well known to you; Jack was a founding father of those. Costuming – yep – Jack was right there at the beginning and encouraging others to join him. Think posting comments on what someone has written is new? Well, only in terms of the computer. Jack was writing intelligent commentary the hard way, with a typewriter, over 70 years ago. And continued to do so until a couple of weeks ago.
Jack was a charter member of First Fandom. In the early years of Science Fiction, Fandom was filled with men and a few women who took Science very seriously, and Science Fiction was a way to envision and work towards the future. (And to save scantily-clad girls being menaced by monsters – but I digress.) Jack was a scientist in his heart and never stopped learning. I am also a lover of science and one thing I could always count on when I went to any Astronomy lecture, Space program, or Science talk was that Jack would be there too. Always. He had a brilliant and quick mind and never let it grow old.
I had known Jack and Ruth for years before I realized just what a Big Name Fan Jack Speer was. When I started my own quest to learn about the history of fandom I noticed that every book I picked up mentioned Jack, or even had a whole chapter devoted to him. It hit me that we had an amazing founder of fandom right here at every Science Fiction club meeting, quietly doing what he had always done: absorbing information, listening, and (at least to himself) commenting on our antics. Something I came to recognize when I would see him get that sly, all-knowing smile of his.
He and Ruth always opened their home to us, year after year, for the Bubonicon pre-con party, and even let us keep coming back when we broke and spilled things, he and Ruth forever the consummate hosts. I know this year’s Bubonicon will lose some of its magic for me without starting the convention at their home.
In the last week I have read many testimonies from fans new and old on the influence Jack had upon them. He touched and enriched Science Fiction for countless fans and friends. Much of fandom will never know how much he contributed to almost every aspect of what they enjoy about being a fan, but we who were lucky enough to know him are keenly aware of what and who we have lost.
Let me finish by telling you what a young fan and friend of mine, Shannon Jay who is 12, said to me upon hearing of Jack’s death. She said, “Oh No! I liked Jack. I am going to miss him and I didn’t even get to say goodbye.” I said, “Well, tell him now – he’ll hear you.” Her face filled with a large smile and she said, “Goodbye Jack – I will miss you.”
That goes for me too.
Patricia adds, “Ruth gave me extras of the programs from the memorial. They are very nice with color photos and a bio of Jack. If you are anyone you know would like one – please just send me a mailing address and I would be happy to drop it in the mail.” Patricia can be reached at [qtera31 @ yahoo.com] – just remove the extra spaces.
Photos from the memorial, interment and reception are on her Flicker page about Jack.
And she closes her latest e-mail with this tantalizing mystery:
Yesterday Ed (Jack’s son) told me that they have found while going though Jack’s papers that most of his working notes are in shorthand and on top of that some is in a code/shorthand of his own creation. I just know Jack is sitting back and smiling at us trying to figure things out.