Joni Doyle Cornell Stopa, born Joni Doyle, began letterhacking in the early 1950s using the name “Kitty” Doyle. (She started as a young teen, but her writing gave correspondents the impression she was much older.)
By 1959, she had been married and divorced, with a two-year-old daughter. Her married name was Joni Cornell.
Joni became one of the leading ladies of Midwestern fandom married Jon Stopa in 1962 and moved to Wilmot, Wisconsin, north of Chicago, where Jon’s family ran Wilmot Mountain, a ski lodge. Beginning the following year, the two began hosting Wilcon, an invitation-only relaxacon, over the July 4 weekend, often attracting scores of fen, many of whom camped out in the back yard (which was far preferable to sleeping in the basement with the cat boxes — Joni had a lot of cats).
Her homemade "Mother Joni's Jams and Jellies" preserves (wild grape and wild plum were especial favorites) were auctioned off at fan events, and brought TAFF and DUFF hundreds of dollars for many years. She ran for DUFF in 1985.
The couple appeared in elaborate costumes at several Worldcon masquerades. Joni helped create the modern masquerade, ensuring that costumers had plenty of room backstage, the chance to eat, and practice runs through the Masquerade space. She was one of the founders of Windycon, and ran the masquerade for Chicon in 1982.
With Martha Beck, Midge Reitan and Jackie Causgrove, Joni started the League of Lecherous Ladies, complete with hand-tooled leather badges. She enjoyed hoax bids, being one of the instigators of Say Da to Moscow and of the Bermuda Triangle Bid (which nearly escaped.)