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Volume 1543

Rita (Marguerite) Coriell


At a Kansas City area fan New Year's Eve party, longtime Burroughs fan John Vaughan gave me the sad news that Rita (Marguerite) Coriell, a member of First Fandom and one of the original founding members (1971) of the Kansas City Science Fiction & Fantasy Society (KaCSFFS) died peacefully on June 13, 2005, at her Kansas City home. She was 90. (John just recently found out about her passing.) She was a colorectal cancer survivor of almost twenty-five years and the survivor of one of the very early (and difficult) hip replacement procedures that never completely restored her full mobility. But nothing ever got Rita down. 

To the end, Rita's mind was sharp as a tack. I last spoke to her in the early spring of '05. She was the very same Rita I knew well back in the 1970s -- just older. She didn't get out of the house much due to her advanced age, living a quiet life alone in her family's longtime Brookside area home. She told me she liked it that way -- but she always loved to hear from old friends and family. She and her late ex-husband Vern, the founder of and patriarch of Edgar Rice Burroughs fandom and the Burroughs Bibliophiles, were married in the mid-60s but divorced in 1979. (Vern Coriell died in January of 1987.) Rita never had any children. 

As a pre-teen in the 1920s, she began reading Weird Tales, eventually winding up with a complete collection of that very famous pulp. At some time later in her life, she had all those issues specially hardbound in multiple volumes. Those volumes sat on multiple bookshelves in her den along with her premiere Arkham House books collection. On her enclosed front porch was a beautiful collection of original Maxfield Parrish art prints. They were always the first things that greeted you when you came over for a visit.

I had the pleasure, back in the '70s, of carefully perusing those magnificent old pulps and Arkhams. Rita loved to share her treasured collection with friends. I was even able to read, cover-to-cover, a duplicate copy of the very first issue of Weird Tales, something I still cherish to this day. I did this over years and a number of visits to "The House of Greystoke," as her and Vern's home was known back then. (And what a collector's wonderland their house was!) Rita was the Secretary-Treasurer of the Burroughs Bibliophiles during that era. And if the truth be told, she was the main force (behind the scenes) that kept this national fan group on track and operating.

In 1996, at age 81, during the KaCSFFS 25th Anniversary year, Rita made a reappearance, coming to several club meetings. She also attended our big 25th Anniversary celebration dinner and program. As part of the programming that followed the banquet, I made sure to show a number of slides in which she was prominent. She and Vern were always fixtures at our early meetings and both were big supporters of KaCSFFS and ultimately KC's bid for the '76 Worldcon. (The Burroughs Dum-Dum at that Worldcon was particularly good.) She and fellow First Fandom member Jim Tibbetts were two of our special guests for the KaCSFFS 25th celebration. It was an honor to have them both with us.

Rita was always a sweetie and a great person to be around. Years could go by and as soon as you spoke to her it was like no time at all had elapsed. Time meant nothing. She loved fans even though, as a bunch, they could be a bit odd at times. She always could tell great stories about fans and pros, sometimes not at all flattering, but always true. Yet her affection for them shown through in the telling. 

KaCSFFS certainly wouldn't be here today if First Fandom members like Rita hadn't created fandom so many decades ago. Their numbers continue to dwindle, but First Fandom's lasting impact on all of us remains. I'm so happy that Rita was one of us. I wish more of you could've met and known her. So long, Rita. And thanks.

--Ken Keller

Kansas City Science Fiction & Fantasy Society


Rita's welcome letter to new Burroughs Bibliophile member, Bill Hillman, in the 1960s
click for large image


Bill & Sue-On visit with Rita

John Vaughn & Sue-On at House of Greystoke
A Rita Cartoon by Frank Frazetta
A Rita Cartoon by Frank Frazetta
Rita Coriell and Hulbert Burroughs
Rita with Hulbert Burroughs
Rita and Johnny Weissmuller
Rita with Johnny Weissmuller

Rita at one of her many convention appearances
Rita and Stanleigh Vinson
Rita and Stanleigh Vinson
A Visit With
Rita Coriell
at the
House of Greystoke
Bill & Sue-On Hillman 
John Vaughan
Vern Coriell Burroughs Biblio-Pro-Phile at:

ERB Memories from the '60s
From the House of Greystoke to Vietnam
by John "Numa" Vaughan
ERBzine 0974

Burroughs Bibliophiles - Tarzan and the Golden Lion Logo - J. Allen St. John
The Coriell House of Greystoke Publications
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Original Burroughs Bulletins Volumes 1-28
Original Burroughs Bulletins Volumes 29-69

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