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Marilyn Howard - a Memorial and a Tribute
by Sandy Tew and JoAnn Baca

Anyone who attended a convention prior to 2011 knew Marilyn Howard by her sweet, shy smile and her short red hair. She was a gentle, quiet presence both in person and online.

A hallmark of Marilyn's love of Beauty and the Beast was her tireless support of the efforts of many fans to keep fandom alive and vibrant. If Jan Sutter needed something for the Crystal Rose Lending Library, Marilyn lent a hand. If CABB needed someone to man their dealers table to raise money for fandom charities, Marilyn stepped up. If a convention chair needed something extra special to help raise money during a charity auction, Marilyn was there, donating pieces of original costuming from her extensive collection. When fandom was in danger of not having a location for the 2005 convention, she stepped up to organize one in Burlington, Vermont, ensuring fandom had a wonderful hotel experience and many enjoyable add-ons (visits to the Build-A-Bear factory, the Ben and Jerry's plant, and the Champlain Chocolate factory, among other things - did she know the way to a fan's heart?!).

Marilyn told several friends that one of the highlights of her fandom life was getting to meet Linda Hamilton - a dream of hers for twenty years (Marilyn was a fierce Classic fan, so finally meeting "Catherine" was an especially exciting experience for her). She also treasured her moments meeting other show stars, especially Ron Perlman and Roy Dotrice.

Even when she wasn't feeling well, she insisted on going to conventions. Donna, her daughter, said the thought of being able to attend the "next" con kept her motivated to get well. That worked for the San Diego con, where she found a way to help the convention team behind the scenes even with limited mobility and energy. Unfortunately, although she was registered, she was unable to make it to the 2011 convention...yet she insisted her daughter register her for the 2012 con in Dallas. Her focus was always forward. But her great heart and indomitable spirit weren't enough to sustain her forever, and she passed away in the autumn of 2011.

Marilyn's health was not the best in these last years, but she never talked about it, never complained. Only when Donna posted about her mother's hospitalizations did we know things were not going well for Marilyn. Donna mentioned several times how cards and e-mails from fandom friends really boosted her spirits at those times. As she grew sicker, she drew sustenance from Donna re-reading those messages to her at her hospital bedside.

In death, Marilyn is still finding a way to contribute to keeping fandom alive. Donna is in the process of transferring many iconic costume pieces from the collection that Marilyn assembled over the years to fandom ownership, at Marilyn's specific request. Instead of being sold, these pieces will be displayed at future conventions for fans to enjoy. The next time you see Catherine's first anniversary dress, the "angel" costume from "Remember Love," Vincent's bathrobe, and other gorgeous and unique pieces, know that somewhere Marilyn is smiling down on you, beaming her sweet, shy smile, happy that something she loved is being enjoyed, and in this way continuing to participate in our grand fandom adventure.

[Candlemakers' Addition: In fulfillment of another of Marilyn's wishes, Donna has donated more than 40 zines, some very rare, as well as a number of newsletters and letterzines from the early days of fandom to the Crystal Rose Lending Library.]

Marilyn was one of the unsung heroines of fandom. As a friend and as a fan, she will be greatly missed.