A friend of mine by the name of Jack Stocker has died. He passed away this morning after having a massive stroke on Monday. He was 85, and long retired from teaching chemistry at the University of New Orleans.
Jack was not the kind of friend I saw every week, or even every year, but he was far more than an acquaintance. I met him at an SF/Fantasy con and that’s usually where I saw him. He often had a used book table at the local cons and would sit on a panel or two. I was on a few panels with him, and bought a lot of books from him. In the early days I got about half my Burroughs and Howard collection from him. Many of those were outright gifts. Jack loved to share with others his passion for good reads.
Jack also sold my books for me at the cons where we both were guests, and I often helped him pack up his books after the festivities were over. That stopped after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, because Jack lost his house and every one of his 20,000 plus volumes to the storm. Another man than Jack might have despaired after that, but Jack didn't let it beat him down. Although I know it hurt him.
Jack was instrumental in helping get me invited as a guest to my first con. He was a fan’s fan. Even in his 80s he was as eager as a little kid to talk about books, and his knowledge of SF/Fantasy was encyclopedic. I had many fun discussions with him over the year, and though I didn’t always agree with him there’s no one whose opinion on SF/Fantasy that I respect more.
Jack, you are missed, my friend.