(January 6, 1941 -- December 4, 1996)
Joni Doyle Cornell Stopa, born Joni 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.)
By 1959, she had been married and divorced, with a two-year-old daughter, Deb. Her married name was Joni Cornell.
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.
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.)
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.
Awards, Honors and GoHships:
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