Ed Pell died December 4, 2017, after a long illness. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1950, he was a good friend and a big part of Greater New York Mensa (GNYM).
When I met Ed, he was the editor of Kitchen & Bath Business, a trade magazine, while I was the assistant editor of Analog and Asimov’s science fiction magazines. We both had aspirations for seeing our own writing published, and put together the GNYM Writers’ SIG. As part of the SIG, we met regularly for several years with a circle of writers that grew to a dozen or more, encouraged each other in our writing, and organized two readings as monthly GNYM speaker events. I wrote science fiction short stories, and eventually did sell several. Ed wrote mostly comic screenplays (two of which were eventually optioned) and won a national screenplay writing award. Long after the group disbanded, we both published our first books (mine were non-fiction books of presidential history, Ed’s were children’s books).
Ed had a love of the obscure and arcane, and founded GNYM’s Colley Cibber SIG (named after the forgotten British Poet Laureate), which may have been one of the first general interest drinking SIGs (it met regularly in pubs and taverns in New York City). That love of obscurity is also why his dinosaur story that I remember featured diplodocus, rather than a dinosaur most people have heard of.
When I became President of GNYM, Bruce Kent took over editing duties on Mphasis, and Ed took over as impresario of our monthly speaker meetings, growing the event into the must-attend of our regular calendar. After Bruce was appointed American Mensa’s Publications Officer, Ed and Merrill Loechner took over the reins of Mphasis (with Bruce’s regular assistance). As editor, Ed ghost-wrote the comic column “Ask Miss Information,” and brought the comic quotient of the newsletter to new lows with the never-ending puns on my name to headline my president’s column.
In 1994, when the Mensa Annual Gathering was in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Ed organized the GNYM Party Bus to the AG. I’ll always remember his review of the trip, which included a “champagne with all the connotations of the word ‘bus.’”
Outside of Mensa, Ed continued his career in the kitchen and bath industry. After twenty years with the publisher of KBB magazine, he moved into a freelance marketing and communications role, and then served for several years as the Manager of Market Research for the National Kitchen & Bath Association.
Ed was a big part of GNYM, but after he met Diana, he became a much happier person. That’s why, though I was sorry he moved out of Brooklyn, I was very happy for him. He and Diana moved to New Jersey after their wedding, and I saw them less frequently after that, but their happiness made up for the lack of Ed around here.
I’m very sorry I hadn’t seen or spoken with Ed recently, but I did often think of him. And I mentioned his innovations and efforts a couple of times during the AMC meeting which took place in the days before his death.
(The photo below, from December 1995: Bruce Kent on the left, Ed Pell in the center, me on the right.)