Jerry Bails - June 26,1933 - November 23, 2006
This is the saddest notice I have ever had to pass along to my friends in comic book fandom.When I joined the GCD many years ago, looking mostly for more information about Aquaman, he was not just helpful, he was encouraging and wonderful. He sent me information about the people who worked on Aquaman and even sent me an original piece of Nick Cardy artwork, a page from Detective #293, which is framed and on my wall. Every time I look at it, which is every day, I think of Jerry and Nick. I was fortunate enough to meet Nick, but I never got to meet Jerry and I wish I had. Without Jerry, much of what I've done in hunting down the history of comics would not have happened. Without Jerry, my Aquaman website would be less interesting and less useful.
I just received a call from Jerry's wife Jean of the news that Jerry Bails, The Father of Comic Book Fandom, died in his sleep today of an apparent heart attack. He was 73.
Jerry had been suffering a serious heart condition for the past several years. In recent months the physical discomfort he had experienced had kept him mostly homebound, but his mind remained as sharp as ever, thanks to the contact he was able to continue with friends and family through the internet.
At this time, details of any services or funerals are not yet known. According to Jean, Jerry's wishes were for something simple and the family are in the process of working on that.
Jerry was a lot of things to a lot of people. For me, he was a mentor, a teacher, a guide--whose wisdom and kindness helped make the world an even better place for many. But most important, I am and will always be deeply proud that I consider Jerry to be my friend. I am a little less not to have his wisdom gracing my ears any longer and I am much MORE knowing that I did have time on this earth in having that same wisdom touch my heart.
My deepest love goes out to Jean, Kirk, and all other family members and loved ones of Jerry.
-Ray Bottorff Jr
Jerry has been called the father of comic book fandom. Mark Evanier writes that he started Alter Ego and was one of the first people to put fans in contact with each other. He started checklists and compiled reports of the early creators in comics, many of whom would have been forgotten without his work. He reportedly wrote some of the earliest letters to editors. Comics were his passion and he delighted in sharing that passion with anyone interested.
Jerry was active on the GCD mailing list, and some of the most touching tributes I've seen have been posted there. My own initial reaction of shock and dismay was posted last night when I read the news. I had been thinking of him Thanksgiving morning. I wanted to e-mail him and ask a few questions. I decided to wait until after the holiday. It's too late now.