Wooster: Margaret Vartanoff Dies

By Martin Morse Wooster: Margaret Ellen Vartanoff, mother of fans Irene and Ellen Vartanoff, grandmother of Trevor Vartanoff, and mother-in-law of Scott Edelman, died on November 13, one day before her 96th birthday.  Her Rockville, Maryland home hosted many meetings of the Potomac River Science Fiction Society and the Washington branches of the Mythopoeic Society and Burroughs Bibliophiles over the past 20 years.

Margaret Brown was born in Chicago in 1914. As a teenager, her daughter Irene recalled, she was so smart that she took class notes in French to keep from being bored.  She kept on learning for most of her life. “Before the Internet, there was my mother,” her daughter Irene recalled. “She was my own family’s Wikipedia.”

After she was graduated from the University of Chicago, Margaret Brown went to Washington, where she worked for the Army Map Service. Her supervisor was Michael “Misha” Vartanoff. They fell in love and married.Misha and Margaret Vartanoff had three children. They also co-wrote two books, What is It In Space Age Russian? (1963) and What Is It In Elementary Russian? (1965).

Although not a fan, Margaret Vartanoff encouraged her daughters to read, and allowed her teenage daughters Ellen and Irene to attend sf and comics conventions from the 1960s onward.  Margaret Vartanoff accompanied her daughter Ellen to the 1987 Worldcon, but spent her time sightseeing while Ellen went to the convention.’

A funeral service was held on November 20 at St. Mary Magdalene Episcopal Church in Silver Spring. About 20 fans were in the audience, and another half-dozen were in the choir.