RIP, Peggy Rae Sapienza

Saw these tweets this morning:

Indeed she will be missed. When I was president of SFWA, I had the good fortune of working with Peggy Rae on the Nebula Awards Weekend, and I can attest that she was one of the good ones. She knew what she was doing, and she made it look, if not easy (running conventions is not easy) then at least manageable. I do remember that at one point during my tenure as president I made the off-hand comment that after a certain date I would be turning my attention more to the Nebula Awards, and getting a polite but pointed note from Peggy Rae asking “what exactly does that mean?” To which I responded something along the lines of, “it means that I will do nothing to get in your way but will back you up when and if you need it.” Which appears to have been the right answer all the way around.

She was also the Fan Guest of Honor at Chicon 7, the Worldcon at which I was the Toastmaster, and never was there a fan more deserving. From the bio note on the Chicon 7 site:

She ran Programming and Special Events for ConStellation, the 1983 Worldcon in Baltimore. She ran Exhibits, Registration, the Dealers’ Room, Information, Press Relations and the Newsletter (the “Second Floor Division”) with Fred Isaacs for Noreascon III in 1989 in Boston. She also conceptualized and managed the ConCourse for which Noreascon III was known. She served as Vice-Chairman for ConFrancisco, the 1993 Worldcon in San Francisco. Her many accomplishments in fandom were crowned by her serving as Chairman of Bucconeer, the 1998 Worldcon in Baltimore. More recently she helped Japanese fandom bring the Worldcon to Japan in 2007 and served as their North American Agent.

Those are some excellent accomplishments for which anyone could be proud.

Finally, I’m happy to say I considered Peggy Rae a friend, and deeply admired her competence and her cheerfulness in being so. If Peggy Rae was running things, basically, I felt in safe hands.

All thoughts to her family and friends today. She’ll be remembered not only by them, but by all of science fiction fandom.

26 Comments on “RIP, Peggy Rae Sapienza”

  1. I didn’t know her well (I was good friends with her daughter-in-law in high school, but we’ve lost touch), but I attended ConStellation, Noreascon III, and Bucconeer and they were three of the best cons I have ever been to, hands down.

  2. I’ve known her for nearly 40 years, and she was always wonderful and helpful. We had a huge loss to fantasy (Pratchett) and media (Nimoy) this year, and now we’ve had an equally huge loss to fandom. I will miss her.

  3. All of that knowledge and experience… it is like a whole library burnt down. Always gentle but firm, helpful but not pushy. You could go your own way, get a skeptical, “Oookay.” or you could listen to what she had to say and do it right the first time.

    I’m very sad today.

  4. I didn’t know her that well, but she and I traded many emails when I volunteered for World Fantasy last year. I knew she was ill. Very sad.

  5. Damnit.

    Peggy Rae was also good with the small things that don’t get noticed but which make the con experience pleasant and worthwhile.

    (No, I don’t have immediate examples. I’m still gobsmacked. Condolences to Eric, eternal rest and perpetual light to her, and this year is officially FIRED.)

  6. Aw man.

    I didn’t know Peggy Rae well, but I had a lot of respect for her. She asked me to write a thing for the program book for WFC 2014, and she was wonderful to work for. It was pretty clear from seeing her in action that she really knew how to put on an event.

    My best wishes to her family and friends.

  7. I can’t stop crying. Just devastated. She will be missed more than words can express. Thank you for a lovely memorial post, John.

  8. Ah, no. No, no, no. I’ve lost touch with her of late; I’ve lost touch with everyone. But at one time I knew her well, and knew John even better. Hugs and condolences to her family. She will be greatly missed.

  9. Oh no. *sobs* She made me so very very welcome when I was GoH at Capclave in 2011. She’ll be so deeply missed.

    It’s getting so I’m dreading firing up the internet first thing in the morning, because this kind of news seems to happen more and more often.

  10. We had only met briefly a couple of times, but her way of shifting an incoming crisis into an unexpected delight will always be an inspiration to me.

  11. I didn’t know her, but Bucconeer, which she chaired, was my first Worldcon! Thanks to her & the many others who put on Bucconeer, I’ve been going to Worldcon semi-regularly ever since.

  12. I remember Peggy Rae calling me and saying “John Scalzi says he’s going to be turning his attention to the Nebula Awards Weekend. What does he plan to do.” The tone of her voice certainly indicated that there was only one correct response and I assured her that you would know that that response should be.

    I am so grateful SFWA threw the two of us together. I learned so much from her, and not just about con-running. Working with Peggy Rae reminds me of a line from the film “As Good As It Gets,” when Jack Nicholson said, “You make me want to be a better man.” In this case, Peggy Rae made me want to be the best me that I could be.

  13. I knew she’d been ill, but I figured she’d conquer it and go on, just like always.

    We shall not see her like again.

    I still have my copy of the Chicon 7 “Sunday Funnies” that was her idea. I’ll look at it and smile, and think of her.

  14. It is so nice to see everyone’s kind comments about her. I didn’t know she had made such a big impact, but I’m proud to call her my Grammy.
    -Peggy Rae’s granddaughter

  15. I just heard. She was one of those people who knew how to love others, and you could feel it in her presence. She was kind to me when I most needed kindness (I can’t remember the details, but I left that convention telling everyone who would listen what a great person she was). I bet thousands of people can say the same.

    She was also really witty and could be sarcastic, but never in a hurtful way.

    OK, that’s all I’m going to say for now. Pratchett: tragic loss for the field, deep regret for books he might have written had he had a few more years of health, sympathy for his loved ones, but I did not know him. Nimoy: a little closer to home, because he was a hero of my childhood; a good man, but I did not know him.

    Peggy Rae I did know. But I didn’t know that LonCon would be the last time I’d ever see her. I’m crushed and twisted up inside.

  16. I’ve known Peggy Rae since at least Noreascon III. We didn’t always agree, but I adored her. Mostly because she was usually (but not always) right. She accepted my expertise, and I accepted hers. My wife Nancy Cobb and I have pretty much Gafiated since the Denver Worldcon, but were looking forward to seeing Peggy Rae and John at the Saratoga Springs World Fantasy Con this year.

    We’ve missed our chance for one more lovely dinner with conversation we can have with no one else – yet again. But no one else will ever be Peggy Rae’s Pet Fireman – I’ll always have that.

  17. You certainly had a silver tongue, Peggy Rae; you could always talk me into doing something, whether monitoring elevators at the Party hotel or being one of your assistants at a Con. And you always made me feel good about it. I’ll miss you, as will many others.

  18. My deepest condolences to John and all of her friends. I remember when I met her back in the mid-1970s (as Peggy Rae Pavlat) at a Minicon – still in the single digits then – she struck me as one of the nicest, most genuine people. All I can think of now is how I wish I could have talked to her again at LoneStarCon 3, but we just never connected. A great loss to our community.

  19. I am so sad to hear of Peggie Rae’s passing. She was a warm and caring person, who made everything she did appear so easy, while balancing 100 things at once. She was magical, and will be greatly missed.
    Lail M. Finlay

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