The mourning doves were singing July 19. Their soft hoots greeted me as I woke. Each long mournful call filled my ears. It was the first time I had heard them this summer and it seemed odd. But there were things to be done, so I shrugged it off and went about my tasks. A few hours later I heard that Marty Gear had passed away the day before. I have to ask, how did those doves know? It seemed as though they were announcing to the world that a remarkable man had left us. Other than one small hoot Saturday morning, they’ve been silent since. Believe me, I’ve been listening.
So who was Marty Gear? Born Alexander Martin Gear, Marty was a fixture at the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. Since 1981, Marty also served as Master of Ceremonies for the Balticon masquerade. There isn’t enough space here to tell his whole story, but a quick Google search got me over 9,000,000 hits. Give it a try. Look up any variation of Marty Gear, Martin Gear, or Alexander Martin Gear.
In his 74 years, Marty touched thousands of lives. He encouraged writers and costumers of all ages, helped found the International Costumer’s Guild, put books in the hands of children, inspired countless people, and was a treasure trove of bad vampire jokes. He helped run and worked at many different conventions in the world of fandom and costuming, his last, just two week before passing.
I remember the first time I met Marty. It was at my first Balticon. He was registering people for the masquerade contest. Not an on-stage kind of person, I’m still not sure how he talked me into entering. There were many entrees that year, so for several hours I waited for my turn, listening to Marty, in his Vlad persona, tell more vampire jokes than I knew existed. I left that year with a ribbon and ideas for more costumes.
Vampires—Bats— I couldn’t resist. Marty’s passion for vampires and bad jokes was contagious. For my third masquerade, I designed a bat costume with a nine foot wingspan and a giant bell. It was titled “There’s a Bell in My Batfry.” Winning a ribbon was great, but the best thing was listening to Marty chuckle after my presentation. It took a minute before he was able to announce the next contestant. Goal achieved. Even after many years, Marty remembered that costume. I will always remember him.