Joyce Katz (1939-2016)

Joyce [Worley Fisher] Katz died July 30, succumbing to an array of serious medical problems that followed a stroke in May. She’s survived by her husband of 45 years, Arnie Katz.

She spent the past 25 years, after she and Arnie moved to Las Vegas, helping organize and host fan groups and conventions.

They published numerous fanzines, and participated in Corflu, an annual con for fanzine fans. Joyce chaired Corflu 29 and was on the committee for Corflu 25, as well as several local conventions, Silvercon 1-4.

Joyce was named “past president of fwa (fan writers of america)” for 2003 at the 2004 Corflu, an affectionate honorific. Her fan memoirs were published in Hard Science Tales, and her fanwriting was collected in The Sweetheart of Fanac Falls.

Joyce was born in Poplar Bluff, Missouri (according to Arnie, also the birthplace of Claude Degler). She discovered sf after marrying Ray Fisher in 1956. Fisher had been active as a fanzine publisher but became alienated from the scene and, as a result, it was not until the mid-1960s that Joyce connected with other fans. Once having done so they immediately co-founded the Ozark Science Fiction Association.

She worked on five Ozarkons. Ray Fisher resumed publishing Odd, which was nominated for a Hugo in 1968. And with plenty of prodding from New York, Los Angeles and Minneapolis fandoms, Joyce found herself spearheading a St. Louis Worldcon bid after only three years as an actifan.

She and Ray split up the year after they co-chaired St. Louiscon. Joyce moved to New York. In 1971 she and Arnie married. She was a member of New York’s two faannish groups, the Fanoclasts and the Brooklyn Insurgents.

After moving to Las Vegas in 1989, Joyce and Arnie eventually resumed fan activity, helped found two fan groups — the Southern Nevada Area Fantasy Fiction Union (SNAFFU) and the Vegrants – and once again became prolific fanzine publishers. Joyce and Arnie were Fan GoH’s at the 1996 Westercon in El Paso.

[Thanks to Deb Geisler for the story.]

27 thoughts on “Joyce Katz (1939-2016)

  1. Very sad news, though hardly unexpected. Joyce and Arnie threw a terrific party for me during my 2009 TAFF tour, and invited me back into their home when I re-visited Las Vegas to attend the 2012 Corflu. She was one of a kind.

  2. Oh, no! Joyce and Arnie were some of the first fans I met in-person, during a visit to NYC while I was stationed at Fort Monmouth, NJ, in 1972. They were both very tolerant of the (largely) clueless gorm I was back then, and made me feel welcomed into the fannish tribe. I’ve had a few convention-conversations with the Katzs since then, received a lot of fanzines from them, and always sent them my own zines.

    I’ve always regretted never making it up to any of the Las Vegas area conventions where I’d have had a better chance of touching base with Joyce and Arnie again.

    Huge and sincere condolences to Arnie. Joyce will be missed.

  3. Joyce was a highly conscientious and welcoming hostess for the Vegas Corflus I attended. It was she who really set the tone for the occasions. I appreciated it greatly.

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  13. I knew Arnie and Joyce back when they lived in NYC. At one point, I was a member of the Lunarians. the Fanoclasts, and the Brooklyn Insurgents. The Lunarians alternated between the homes of John and Perdita Boardman in Brooklyn and Frank and Anne Deitz in Oradell, NJ, the Fanocalsts were hosted in Brooklyn by Steve and Gale Styles, and Arnie and Joyce hosted the Insurgents in Brooklyn.

    Arnie could be prickly in person, but Joyce did a lot to smooth his rough edges, and was a major reason why Insurgents gatherings were successful.

    When they moved to Vegas, Arnie became Editor in Chief at a web site aimed at the collectibles market, and promptly hired fans to create content, like Ted White on Jazz and Steve Stiles on Comics. Joyce was on board to assist in the effort. They also got involved in local Vegas fandom.

    Arnie and Joyce were always fanzine fans rather than con fans, and their interaction with the rest of fandom was through the written word. Their interests ranged beyond SF, and they did a lot of fanzines oriented to general pop culture. The current plethora of Zines owes a lot to their efforts.

    I knew Joyce was in poor health, so this announcement doesn’t come as a huge surprise, but it’s still a source of sorrow. Arnie has my deepest sympathies, and I’ll raise a dram in salute to Joyce. She was one of the folks that made fandom a worthwhile place to be.

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  18. I knew Joyce for 45 years. She had extraordinary empathy and was loyal to a fault. Not enough attention is paid to her skill as a fan writer, which was considerable. But she was also, in some sense, the hostess to generations of fans in St. Louis, NYC and Vegas. Wherever she went, fandom grew and flourished. Many have given her husband credit for being the Pied Piper of Twilltone, but it was always her warmth and hospitality that brought everybody back to her door.

    She treated me like a man when I was not yet one, treated me as her equal when I was not, and unconditionally accepted me for who I am without ever asking anything other than my friendship. Out of that grew something akin to familial affection that always felt real and genuine, no matter how many years passed between our meetings. She was irreplaceable. RIP

  19. I probably met Joyce once, in the 1970s, so I didn’t know her at all … except through the later Katz publications and her apazine Blue Jaunte. I had far closer contact to Arnie, however, so I feel pretty bad for him. Although he may have been expecting this for some time, he must be feeling very vulnerable now.

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  21. I met Joyce just last year when I have been the TAFF-delegate – so she had finally been quite active until the very end. Her husband and she were amazing party-hosts! I have been fascinated about their home, as it was stuffed full with books and fannish art. She sure made an impression.

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  24. Joyce Katz’ Potlatch, was one of the first fanzines I ever read, along with husband Arnie’s Focal Point. I didn’t actually meet fans in person until years later, and these fanzines were my 1970’s, teen-age window into what seemed to be one of the coolest worlds imaginable. This obituary and its comments, particularly the eloquent one from Dan Steffan, tell me that Joyce as a person was even more remarkable than her paper personality.

  25. Joyce and Arnie were instrumental in converting Barry Smotroff and me into genuine faanish fans, for which I’ll always be grateful.

    Dan is absolutely right about the important role Joyce played in improving the atmospherics around Arnie. I also concur with his high opinion of her fanwriting. What I will remember most, though, will be her sympathy and generosity. If there’s a goddess of hospitality, Joyce was her incarnation, and you didn’t have to sit at her table long before she started feeling like a favorite aunt you’d just discovered to whom you soon felt you could talk about anything.

    I can’t imagine how Arnie is going to manage without her and he and Vegas fandom have all my sympathy. He, and they, were very lucky to have Joyce in their lives.

  26. Very, very sad news. I’d hoped Joyce (and Arnie) might somehow come to the Worldcon here in Kansas City this week, only to find her listed on the program book’s obit page as gone a month earlier. She was a super-kind person and a wonderful hostess (most OSFA meetings occurred at the Fisher household) and I really had no idea until reading her fan-bio in “Hard Science Tales” that she was so new to fandom “way back then” (I met her on joining OSFA in ’64, and last had contact in ’70, when the draft caught up with me), she’d mastered the damn’ thing so well. It would have been fun to reminisce with her about the OSFA days and St. Louiscon. My deepest and sincerest condolences to Arnie.

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