Two Recent LASFS Deaths Announced

The death of Ken Porter, a LASFS member since 1976, was announced at the December 10 meeting by John Hertz. According to Ken’s sister, he had missed a couple of appointments and a check of his apartment led to the discovery that he had died some time ago. The cause of death was not immediately known. Once authorities release his body it will be cremated.

People all remember Ken as friendly and easygoing, which he was, though I also remember he had a passion to help the club, and no patience whenever any injustice was done to his friends.

Like many LASFSians, Ken appeared in Niven, Pournelle and Flynn’s novel Fallen Angels – described on page 387 as a “heavy-set black man.” He participated on “Why Is Fandom So White?” panels run at several LA area conventions in years gone by.

Phil Castora, who joined LASFS in 1962, died during the summer. This was only learned in November when Charles Lee Jackson II went to his care facility intending to drop off some back copies of APA-L. Phil was a past secretary of the LASFS, and a truly funny writer. I loved his letters of comment to File 770 – they were gems.

Phil found a lot to laugh about and he was legendary for suddenly feeling something was so funny that he would laugh uncontrollably and collapse onto the floor. Bruce Pelz described this to several of us when I was a new club member, and answered that I hoped to see it. “No you don’t,” contradicted Bruce, who had already seen it quite often.

Back in the 1970s Phil made his living for awhile as a process server, which gave him an inexhaustible source of stories about the strange and ridiculous. His personal favorite was about the lawyer who had a lot of trouble properly filling out the necessary form to respond to lawsuit for malfeasance.

Interestingly, both Ken and Phil can be seen in their prime along with a lot of other LASFSians in Bill Mills video from the party hosted by Drew and Kathy Sanders on August 10, 1980. Ken is briefly visible at the 8:02, 9:24 and 10:46 marks. Phil appears at 5:52, 9:13 and 10:45. The video is hosted on Bill’s Voices On Video site.

5 thoughts on “Two Recent LASFS Deaths Announced

  1. “Phil found a lot to laugh about and he was legendary for suddenly feeling something was so funny that he would laugh uncontrollably and collapse onto the floor.”

    Jesus. That’s absolutely without-a-doubt cataplexy, a piece of what Teresa has. I wonder if he ever had a sleep/wake neurological workup.

  2. We’ll see if a reader who kept in touch with Phil during his health crises (I believe he had several during his life) can tell what care he got.

  3. Ken’s death was announced at the LASFS meeting Thursday. Ken Porter was a valued friend, and sometime consultant on urban scenes in my stories. He was one of the most observant people I know, although it took some persuasion to get him to open up.

    We could never get him to take care of himself. In the past few years I only saw him at parties but about three years ago when I was coming back on AMTRAK from San Diego and found myself utterly confused in the Universal City bus station — I had never taken the bus from there to Laurel Canyon and was wondering if I’d have to walk — there was Ken, waiting for a bus. He told me how to find the one I needed. An odd coincidence. We met a few more times at Niven’s parties.

    I didn’t see him much recently, but I’ll miss him. He was very good at spotting badly written accounts of inner city life.


    Jerry Pournelle

  4. Both Phil and Ken crashed at our place, sometimes for months on end. We supported Ken through his retraining and “A” certification. I once got him a gig playing Santa Claus at Dr. King Rollins Christmas party. Ken had diabetes – type one. He was sometimes someone I talked to about computers when writing tech articles.

  5. I heard about Kenny Porter’s death via friends on Facebook last week; a real shame, he was a very kind soul. Always friendly and smiling during my days at the LASFS.

    I had no idea about Phil Castora until now, though. I met Phil about twenty years ago, when he used to come to Time Meddlers meetings; of course I knew him through LASFS too.

    Real gems, both of them.

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