Robert (Bob) A. Madle passed on October 8th 2022. He was 102 years old, and a long time science fiction fan. I met Bob just a few years ago, in 2016, when he came to a room party that I hosted at Philcon. We both grew up in the Kensington neighborhood in Philadelphia (more than a few years apart).
He was the last surviving attendee of the first science fiction convention (Philcon 1936).
Bob Madle, Philcon 2013 GoH
Collected Letters, 1935-1937
Bob Madle was avid contributor to the letters section of science fiction magazines, some of which I’ve gleaned from Weird Tales, Astounding, and Amazing Stories. What I love about these letters is that they become a snapshot of early science fiction fandom.
In the March issue of Weird Tales (v27n03 p.136), Julius Hopkins had petitioned for the creation of a “Weird Tales” fan club, complete with a sample organizational constitution. One of the restrictions was that members be 18 and over. This was Bob’s response (he was 15 at the time):
In Thrilling Wonder Stories (v09n01 p.116) an article ran about The Science Fiction League that gave a brief account of the proceedings of Philadelphia chapter. This was the organization that was eventually to become The Philadelphia Science Fiction Society.
Robert was the last member of that first fandom/first Philcon. But he remained active in fandom until his passing.
May he rest in peace.
May his legacy endure.