Joni Stopa

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Jon and Joni Stopa in their award-winning masquerade costume, “The Succubus and her Mate,” Discon, 1963.

(January 6, 1941 – December 4, 1996)

Joni Stopa (formerly Cornell, born Ruth Joan Doyle) began letterhacking in the early 1950s using the name "Kitty" Doyle. (She started as a young teen, but her writing gave correspondents the impression she was much older.)

She was a fan artist and part of Project Art Show, helping Bjo Trimble create the art show at Pittcon in 1960, setting up and running the show. (In doing so, she pressed Harlan Ellison into service.) She belonged to the N3F and served on the Welcommittee.

Joni became one of the leading ladies of Midwestern fandom after she married Jon Stopa in 1963 and moved to Wilmot, WI, north of Chicago, where Jon's family owned and ran Wilmot Mountain, a ski area. Beginning with a picnic that year, the two began hosting Wilcon, an invitation-only relaxacon, over the July 4 weekend, often attracting scores of fen, many of whom camped out in the back yard (which was far preferable to sleeping in the basement with the cat boxes — Joni had a lot of cats). The Stopas’ fanac was limited to the periods outside snow season since they both worked at the ski area.

Her homemade "Mother Joni's Jams and Jellies" preserves (wild grape and wild plum were especial favorites) were auctioned off at fan events, and brought TAFF and DUFF hundreds of dollars for many years.

The couple appeared in elaborate costumes at several Worldcon masquerades. Joni helped create the modern masquerade, ensuring that costumers had plenty of room backstage, the chance to eat, and practice runs through the Masquerade space. She was one of the founders of Windycon, and ran the masquerade for Chicon in 1982. She ran for DUFF in the 1985 race.

Joni was GoH at Windycon 2 in 1975. The Stopas were among the founders of ISFiC and were Guests of Honor at ConClave VI in 1981 and Fan Guests of Honor at Chicon V in 1991. She was a member of the Chicago in 1982 Worldcon bid.

She published Gallimaufry (with Dave Locke)

Art by Kitty Doyle, ca. 1955.
From Grue 33 (February 1970).

With Martha Beck, Phyllis Eisenstein, Midge Reitan and Jackie Causgrove, Joni started the League of Lecherous Ladies, complete with hand-tooled leather badges. She enjoyed hoax bids, being one of the instigators of Say Da to Moscow and of the Bermuda Triangle Bid (which nearly escaped).

By 1959, she had been married to someone named Cornell and divorced, with a two-year-old daughter, Deb. Joni collapsed on November 8, 1996, at WindyCon XXIII, from a combination of heart problems, a stroke, and a staph infection. She died just under a month later.

Fanzines and Apazines:

Awards, Honors and GoHships:

Person 19411996
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