In Memoriam

The Popular Association celebrates the lives of our members who have passed. If you have information on a member you’d like to share, please contact PCA Historian, Gary Burns, at gburns@niu.edu.  

Felicia Campbell

Felicia Campbell founded and directed the Far West Popular Culture Association (FWPCA) and served as president for the national Popular Culture Association as well. She was also the founder, and remained until her passing as the editor, of the influential journal Popular Culture Review. The FWPCA this year celebrated its thirty-second anniversary with Felicia at the helm. Seven years ago, at the twenty-fifth anniversary, conference-goers held a special celebration of Felicia and all of her wrong choices, crowning her as “The Queen of Pop Culture”—a horribly wrong thing to do in a democracy, though nothing could be more correct than that mantle and title, for not only had she carved out the space for such interests to be taken seriously in academia, the Queen had truly created a niche within the academy where the local culture could be a model for the culture at large. Unlike many other academic conferences, the Far West meeting has historically never been driven by hostility, aggression, or ego. Attendees might not always agree when they speak to each other, but it is truly wondrous that a conference space could be such a constructive place to have those agreements and disagreements, a space that is based on community, collaboration, and getting at the truth of the matter together rather than showing off or belittling others. Such a culture and ethos were not accidents. They were created at the top. The Queen of Pop Culture, Felicia was and always will be.

Read about Felicia in The New York Times, watch a segment about Felicia on PBS Newshour,  and learn more about her amazing life and legacy. 



Mort Gamble

Longtime PCA member Mortimer Williams Gamble V died on January 29, 2020.  He was born on September 21, 1951, in Cumberland, Maryland.  He grew up in Moorefield, West Virginia.  Mort received his baccalaureate and master’s degrees in English and his doctorate in higher education leadership, all from West Virginia University.  He taught English, humanities, and communication at West Virginia Wesleyan College and served as Director of College Relations at that institution.  Subsequently he worked in many administrative positions at Fairmont State University (West Virginia), Waynesburg University (Pennsylvania), Hood College (Maryland), George Washington University (DC), and Bethany College (West Virginia).  Since 2016 he served as Senior Vice President at Virginia Wesleyan University, where he was also an associate professor of communication.

Mort was a former member of a traveling circus troupe and conducted research on circus history and culture.  He was active for many years in the PCA Circus and Sideshow Culture Area.  He was a columnist for The CFA Word, the national magazine of the Circus Fans Association of America.  Mort’s publications include “Circus! Life Under the Big Top” (Goldenseal, published by the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History, 2009); “Bethany Trolley” (with Laura L. Cramblet) (Goldenseal, 2011); and (with Maureen Brunsdale) “Little Caesar: The Secret Life and High-Flying Times of Art Concello” (Bandwagon, published by the Circus Historical Society, 2017).  Mort also published “Circus Kirk: A Mud Show Back to the Future (What the Circus Did for Us),” “Circus Noir: Peering Into the Dark Corners of the Big Top,” and “Circus in a Box: The Big Top on TV,” all in The Many Worlds of Circus, edited by Robert Sugarman (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007).  Mort presented a paper at the 2019 PCA conference, “The ‘Soul’ of the Circus: What Animals Under the Big Top Continue to Teach Their Audiences.”  At the time of his death, Mort was working with Maureen Brunsdale on a book-length biography of trapeze artist and show manager Arthur M. Concello.

Mort is survived by his wife (M.E. Yancosek Gamble) and his brother (Dave Gamble). Read more from Virginia Wesleyan University.


Mery-et Lescher

Longtime PCA member Mary Elizabeth Lescher (also known as Mery-et Lescher) died on June 2, 2019.  She was born on August 19, 1957.  She presented at PCA conferences in the Animation Area and in the Popular Art, Architecture, and Design Area.  Mery-et received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the School of Visual Arts (New York) in 1983 and a B.A. (2008), M.A. (2010), and Ph.D. (2017) in Art History, Criticism, and Conservation from Florida State University, along with a Graduate Museum Studies Certificate from Florida State (2012). Her Ph.D. dissertation was “The Little Studio That Could: The Contribution of Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida to the Animation Renaissance and Theme-Park Entertainment.”

Mery-et had extensive professional experience in animation and worked in many different film production facilities around the world.  She has numerous credits listed in the Internet Movie Database, including Klaus (2019), an English-language Spanish film directed by Sergio Pablos and distributed by Netflix.  Klaus is dedicated to Mery-et’s memory and was released shortly after her death.  Mery-et’s numerous credits for Disney productions include Brother Bear (2003); Lilo & Stitch (2002); John Henry (part of Disney’s American Legends) (2000); Mulan (1998); Hercules (1997); Pocahontas (1995); The Lion King (1994), Aladdin (1992); and Beauty and the Beast (1991).  Mery-et’s animation position titles included 2D Scene Planner, Senior Scene Planner, Scene Planner, Master Cameraperson, Optical-Camera Operator, and Computer-Graphics Artist.

In addition to her film work, Mery-et worked as a curator at the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art (Sarasota, Florida), the Florida State University Museum of Fine Arts, and Richmond Community Hospital (Virginia).

Mery-et received numerous awards, grants, and other honors, including a Michael Schoenecke Travel Grant from PCA in 2016.

Mary-et is survived by her partner, John Urbancik.

Martin Manning

Martin Joseph Manning died February 28, 2019, at the age of 68 at his home in Woodbridge, Virginia.  He was born in Boston.  Martin received a B.S. degree from Boston College and a master’s degree in library science from Catholic University of America (DC).  He was a research librarian and archivist for the U.S. government for 44 years, most recently for the State Department.

Martin was active for many years in PCA and in the Northeast PCA.  For PCA he served as Area Chair for New England Studies and as Area Chair for World’s Fairs and Expositions.

Martin’s books include Herbal Medicine and Botanical Medical Fads (with Frank Hoffmann) (Haworth, 2002); Historical Dictionary of American Propaganda (edited with Herbert Romerstein) (Greenwood, 2004); Pop Culture versus Real America (Managing Editor with Megan A. Wong) (U.S. Department of State, Bureau of International Information Programs, 2010); and Encyclopedia of Media and Propaganda in Wartime America (edited with Clarence R. Wyatt) (ABC-CLIO, 2011).

Martin also published several articles, chapters, and encyclopedia entries, including “Malcolm Bingay” (in American Sportswriters and Writers on Sport, edited by Richard Orodenker) (Gale, 2001); “Impact of Propaganda Materials in Free World Countries” (in Pressing the Fight: Print, Propaganda, and the Cold War, edited by Greg Barnhisel and Catherine Turner) (University of Massachusetts Press, 2010); and “Disney’s Europe: Hans Brinker and The Three Lives of Thomasina” and “The American Revolution and Disney: Esther Forbes, Johnny Tremain, and the Celebration of Liberty” (in Walt Disney, from Reader to Storyteller: Essays on the Literary Inspirations, edited by Kathy Merlock Jackson and Mark I. West) (McFarland, 2015).

Martin was also a barbershop quartet singer and a judge for National History Day competitions at the state level in Maryland and nationally in Washington, DC.

Martin is survived by his daughters Anna Manning and Sarah Manning, five siblings, and several nephews and their children.

Douglas Noverr

Former PCA President Douglas Arthur Noverr died February 14, 2020.  He was born on May 13, 1942.  Doug grew up in Battle Creek, Michigan, and graduated from St. Philip Catholic Central High School in Battle Creek.  He received his B.A. and M.A. in English from Central Michigan University and his Ph.D. in English in 1973 from Miami University (Oxford, Ohio).

Doug was President of PCA from 1997 to 2000.  Prior to that he served as Vice President (1995-1996) and as a Council Member at Large (1992-1995).  He also served as Sports Area Chair for many years.  Doug chaired the PCA-ACA Endowment Committee from 2001 to 2005 and served as PCA-ACA International Coordinator from 2007 to 2011.  He received the Governing Board Award for outstanding and far-reaching service to PCA-ACA.  The Douglas A. Noverr Grant for Collection Enhancement, awarded by the PCA Endowment, has enabled colleges and universities across the country to create and enhance campus-based research collections in popular and American culture studies.

Doug worked at Michigan State University from 1970 until his retirement in 2018.  During his time at Michigan State Doug served as Chair of the Departments of American Thought and Language and Writing, Rhetoric, and American Cultures from 1995 to 2007.  He served as Acting or Interim Chair of the Departments of Spanish and Portuguese and Romance and Classical Studies.  He was Senior Associate Dean in the College of Arts & Letters from 2007 to 2010.

Doug was a noted scholar of sports, Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman, and Midwestern literature, among many other topics.  He was active in the Society for the Study of Midwestern Literature.  He received a Fulbright award in 1976 and taught as a Senior Lecturer in American Literature in Lublin, Poland, at the Institute of English Philology at Maria Curie-Skłodowska University.

Doug’s books include The Games They Played: Sports in American History, 1865-1980 (with Lawrence E. Ziewacz) (Nelson-Hall, 1983); Walt Whitman’s Selected Journalism (edited with Jason Stacy) (University of Iowa Press, 2014); and Michigan State University: The Rise of a Research University and the New Millennium, 1970-2005 (Michigan State University Press, 2015).

Doug’s numerous articles and book chapters include “Popular Fiction and the U.S.-Mexico War: Thomas Mayne Reid’s The Rifle Rangers (1850) and John Ludlum McConnel’s Talbot and Vernon (1850)” (Journal of Popular Culture, 2001); “Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig” (in The Columbia Companion to American History on Film: How the Movies Have Portrayed the American Past, edited by Peter C. Rollins) (Columbia University Press, 2003); and “Popular Culture in Sports, the Popular Culture of Sports: A Cross-Disciplinary Historical View” (in Popular Culture Studies Across the Curriculum: Essays for Educators, edited by Ray B. Browne) (McFarland, 2005).

Doug is survived by his wife, Betty Noverr.  A graveside service in Doug’s memory was held in May 2020 at the Barnard Cemetery in Charlevoix, Michigan. Read more from Michigan State University. 



PCA Remembers

Felicia Campbell

Mort Gamble

Mery-et Lescher

Martin Manning

Douglas Noverr