Stupid inevitability of death.
Williamson won the 2002 Campbell Award for Terraforming Earth (though he was unable to come accept his award), was inducted into the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame in 1996, was named Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1975, and won the Hugo and Nebula awards. He has an SF library named in his honor at Eastern New Mexico University, where there is also a lectureship named in his honor. He has published science fiction during every decade that science fiction has been identified as such, starting in 1928 through this very year.
I met him at his Hall of Fame induction and again at a convention (I think it was ConQuest in Kansas City). He was a kind, noble man with an open heart. His story, "With Folded Hands," influenced me greatly as a young writer, where he explored the notion that we might be forced to give up all freedom in exchange for security: An important message these days. He is an icon, someone larger than life (though his body was betraying him as time wore on) because he had been such a force in SF, yet eminently available to even the newest fan. Though I only met him twice, I'd been reading his work since I was a boy, and even then he'd been part of the core of SF so long that one might almost view him as a permanent feature of the genre. But, after all that, he was still only human. I only met him twice, but I'll miss him nonetheless. I think we all will.
Mike Levy just forwarded this:
Betty Williamson has sent a message today to friends and relatives that Jack Williamson has passed away.
Hello dear friends and family,
This is to let you know that our beloved Jack Williamson died this afternoon at 3:22 p.m. He was in his study, surrounded by people he loved who loved him. It could not have been better.
Jack consented to a memorial service because I told him there were a lot of people who would want to get together to share wonderful memories. We will let all of you know when that is set.
Thank you for your friendship and love to Jack. He will be missed by all of us, but he was very ready to die. He has told me many, many times, "I have lived a wonderful life and I will die with no regrets."
(Another source suggests the service will be next week.)
Without Jack Williamson, science fiction would not be what it is today. Everyone who has written SF since it's been called "science fiction" or "scientifiction" has at least been aware of Williamson's work - and it has always been present-tense until today. I guess he seemed immortal to me. It's upsetting to think that he's no longer with us, that SF will go on being published, but for the first time it will do so without Jack Williamson at its core.
A sad night; I'm going to bed. I hope you all are well.