who died yesterday at 73, though he always seemed far younger than his years, deserves to be remembered as, among other things, perhaps the first, and the most dedicated, professional Tolkien fan. By which I mean, Tolkien fandom for its own sake is what aroused his interest and enthusiasm. He wasn't noted for the creative or scholarly work he personally did; instead, he was the cause of it in other people. He liked to organize things, and he liked to enthuse about them: he organized some of the first scholarly Tolkien conferences in the 1960s, which eventually resulted in a book titled A Tolkien Compass with a couple of dandy pioneering papers in it, and he renewed the series of conferences in later years; the last time I saw him, at the Reno Worldcon, he was talking about the last one he'd done and the next one he planned. (Most of these were on the east coast, and I never had the chance to attend one.) As a general enthusiast, and as someone whose other fannish interests included costuming, he was equally burblish about the movies, and do I remember him also talking about organizing tours, trans-Pacific flights included, of New Zealand? It's just the sort of thing he'd do. It was impossible to criticize or look down on jan for the width and indiscriminacy of his enthuasisms: he was just too cheerful, innocent, and warm-hearted a guy.
Just don't ask me to explain about the wombats.