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Steve and Sue Francis
Fan Guests of Honor
I first met Steve Francis at one of the seminal SF conventions in the area, NorthAmeriCon, in Louisville in 1979. (Holy cow! 21 years ago!) If I remember correctly, he was running the Huckster room at the time and I remember listening in to Steve’s comments about how much "fun" it was to run a convention.
I doubt if he even remembers the meeting, I was a Neofan at the time and didn’t say much. But, a few years later, Steve was at his huckster table, saw me and immediately gave me a copy of the NorthAmeriCon Memories book that was made with the profits from that convention. He even pointed out the page that had my photo in it!
Steve and Sue had been running many huckster rooms, registration areas and cons by that time, had met scads of people, and yet he remembered a young neo from years before. That’s true Fandom.
Aside from Co Chairing RiverCon with Sue since 1983, Steve’s specialty is running huckster rooms. He ran the Worldcon Huckster room in Atlanta (1986) Chicago (1991) and San Antonio (1997) and worked with Dick Spelman at New Orleans (1988) Orlando (1992) L.A. (1996) and Baltimore (1998). He has attended 271 conventions since his first con in San Francisco in 1963. Together He and Sue have attended cons from SanDiego to Boston and Miami Beach to Vancouver, B.C. (Plus the Netherlands and Australia!)
Sue has kept right up there with him. From her first con in 1974 she has been to 253 cons including 17 WorldCons. She has run departments and divisions and has worked on worldcons at Miami Beach (1977) Louisville (1979) Atlanta (1986) New Orleans (1988) Boston (1989) Orlando (1992) San Antonio (1997) Baltimore (1998) and Australia (1999).
Now I know why Steve no longer buys new cars.
Along the road they’ve acquired various cats, 5 children, 14 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren and 2 more grandchildren on the way this year. They’ve also acquired a large collection of books, magazines and most of the original art for the RiverCon program book covers. I’ve been to the RiverCon art auction, and I can tell stories about some of the fights. Watching Sue’s determination to get a piece of art is an experience.
Steve’s first SF book was Thru Space to Mars, given to him by his grandmother at the tender age of 10. Sue started somewhat later with Tarzan of the Apes. The Collection that resulted from so much reading now inhabits most of the basement space, with the exception of the Holy of Holies: The Desk Where Conventions Are Done.
Steve met Sue at a party in 1964 that Sue gave for her younger brother who was on his way into the Navy. Her brother invited Steve, and the minute Sue saw Steve it was goodbye to her date. They got married 5 weeks later, and have been travelling together ever since. The story goes that, on the way to the wedding, Sue’s oldest boy threw up over Steve’s brand new car. Maybe THAT’S why Steve no longer buys new cars? The story also goes that shortly after the marriage, Sue decided to take a nice long bath. Well, what does a SF fan take to read in a bath? Remember Sue’s first book? Steve walked into the bathroom, screamed, grabbed the book out of her hand saying "If I ever find you in the bathtub again with one of my first edition Burroughs, I’ll drown you!"
A man after my own heart!
Sue was born in Louisville, Kentucky and moved to California in 1950. Steve was born in Oakland, California, met Sue and moved to Louisville in 1968 after getting tired of earthquakes in San Francisco. They got involved in the beginning of organized fandom in Kentucky by joining FOSFA, the Falls of the Ohio Science Fiction Association. Having one of the few houses in Louisville fandom in those early years, they became favorites for committee meetings and parties. There is a living room couch that has been dubbed "the most comfortable in Fandom". (Also, rumor has it that there is a spot in the front yard that has been "watered" so often that grass still doesn’t grow.) A few years later FOSFA hosted their first convention, RiverCon 1/DeepSouthCon 13 in 1975. In the short time of 4 years the club hosted NorthAmeriCon with both Steve and Sue right in the middle. After the legendary Cliff Amos stepped down as chairman in 1981, Steve and Sue started running all of the remaining RiverCons.
The last RiverCon will commence a few weeks after InConJunction. I encourage all of you to attend the last big party of Kentucky Fandom and see what southern hospitality is all about. You will have no trouble talking to Steve and Sue, they’ll probably be in the middle of the convention as usual. If you by any chance have a bottle of the real, original Coca-Cola (pre formula change) bring it along, Steve’s vintage stockpile could probably use some additions!
Dennis J. Ciurej
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