Fan, author, and editor jan howard finder, widely known as The Wombat, died 25 February 2013, of renal and kidney failure, after a long battle with prostate cancer. Born 2 March 1939 in Chicago, Illinois, he was a strong, continual presence in the northeast US.
He studied academic administration at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and worked in academia.
In 1964, he became enamored of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, and organized the “First Conference on Middle-eart” in 1969. Two years later, he ran the second conference at Cleveland State University, where he was an assistant dean. He’d been working a long time on the idea, and in 2011, chaired the Third such conference in Massachusetts. He was also a sometime tour guide, and lead a group to New Zealand to take in the sights made famous in the Peter Jackson movie trilogy.
He edited the fanzine The Spang Blah, and was a continual presence at sf conventions. He co-founded the current Albacon in New York’s capital region, and was Fan Guest of Honor at seven conventions, including ConFrancisco, the 1993 World Science Fiction Convention.
finder published several short stories, and edited the anthology Alien Encounters, which Taplinger published in 1982.
His fandom extended beyond the realm of science fiction. I remember his joy with the retirement gift he got himself: a red Corvette, and his the thrill he got from his opportunity to attend Chicago Cubs spring training a few years ago. I’m going to miss him at future conventions: his smiling personality and infectious enthusiasm.