Ardath Mayhar died Wednesday. Word spread quickly throughout the genre literary community. I met her twice, in 2004 at the first FenCon in Dallas, and in 2008 when the Nebula Awards were held in Austin.
She had mobility problems in old age, and she was taken to FenCon by Joe Lansdale, who she called an "adopted grandson". We had a nice conversation. I remember she was especially impressed that I wrote on the side and worked full-time as a journalist. She said it was smart to have an "eating job".
When I learned that she was receiving the SFWA Author Emeritus Award in 2008, I called her and conducted an interview. I was proud for her, as a representative of East Texas, and I published the interview in my newspaper, the Mount Pleasant Daily Tribune. It was also published in her hometown paper, the Nacogdoches Sentinel.
When I saw her in April 2008, I noticed she seemed to be weaker than when I saw her in 2004. She passed away at 81.
Here is the text of her obituary from the Nacogdoches Sentinel"
Ardath Frances (Hurst) Mayhar died Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012, in Nacogdoches, Texas. She was 81. Born Feb. 20, 1930, to Bert Hurst and Ardath Ellington, in Timpson, Texas, Ardath Mayhar is the author of more than 60 books ranging from science fiction, fantasy, horror and young adult to historical and westerns, with some work under the pseudonyms Frank Cannon, Frances Hurst and John Killdeer. She began her writing career as a poet when she was 19 and began publishing science fiction in 1979 after returning with her family to Texas from Oregon. She was nominated for the Mark Twain Readers Award, won the Balrog Award, was nominated for awards in almost every fiction genre, and won many awards for poetry. In 2008, she was chosen by the Science Fiction Writers of America as their author emeritus. Mayhar also owned and operated The View from Orbit Bookstore in Nacogdoches with her husband, Joe, until his death in 1999, after which she sold the store. Mayhar taught writing through the Writer's Digest school, provided book doctoring, and mentored numerous young authors. Until her health declined, Mayhar's reputation was such that she spoke regularly in the area, drawing large crowds to listen to her wit and wisdom. She is survived by two sons, James Mayhar and Frank Mayhar; two stepsons, Robert Mayhar and William Mayhar; grandchildren, Kai Mayhar, and Brad Mayhar; sister, Judy Corley; and brother, Joe Bert Hurst. A memorial service will be held later, with details pending at this time. Online condolences and memories may be offered at www.casonmonk-metcalf.com. Cason Monk-Metcalf Funeral Directors.