Shirley Maiewski: A Tribute
Continuing a tribute for Shirley Maiewski, long time head of STAR TREK WELCOMMITTEE who passed away in April, 2004. The entry page to Shirley Maiewski: A Tribute
Part of A Companion in Zeor A Star Trek Guardian Lost
Remembrances, for inclusion, can be e-mailed to Karen MacLEOD
by Douglas Mayo --
Captain, U.S.S. Nelson: NCC-74804
This tribute was also submitted to the "Star Trek Communicator" and "Starfleet International's Communique." It is reprinted here with the permission of its author.
Earlier this week, Star Trek lost one of its guardians, Shirley Maiewski of Hatfield, MA passed away on April 13th 2004. Star Trek fans around the world have much to thank Shirley for. She answered the call from Star Trek's creator Gene Roddenberry in 1968, when Desilu Studios wanted to pull the plug on Star Trek. She was part of one of the biggest letter writing campaigns by fans of the show, to the than powers to be of the studio.
Over a million letters flooded in from ordinary fans from across the world. The result was Star Trek was saved, if only for a season more. The larger message of that successful campaign was not lost, fans near and far now knew there were many who shared a fondness for Mr. Roddenberry's vision. From that fandom it brought 10 movies, 4 additional TV series, and countless books still being published monthly.
As a 9 year old boy, I too wrote a letter to the studio asking them to save Star Trek, because it did make a difference in my life. It gave me hope and a vision that life could be better, something I had wished for daily as a child born with Cerebral Palsy. Over the next couple of years I wrote several more letters in support of the show, and one of the letters I received back pointed me the direction of the Star Trek Welcommittee (STW), Shirley was the Chairman.
The Star Trek Welcommittee was a central information service, which could answer all questions about Star Trek. The Welcommittee was not a club to join, nor a social group, rather a collection of fans, scattered throughout the world, who are willing, ready, and able to answer any questions about Star Trek - from trivia to information on clubs, fanzines, conventions, how to make your own costumes and so forth.
I became a member of the Welcommitee team answering Star Trek questions from fans all over the world, in the early 90's. Every couple of months, I would receive from Shirley a packet of letters from fans needing to be answered. I would delve into my extensive Star Trek collection to seek the answers to the questions asked. The information age and the Internet took its toll on the Welcommittee in the late 90's, and it closed up shop.
As is always, life moved on. In 2001 I rejoined Starfleet International, and in 2003 started my own chapter/ship in Northampton MA, called the U.S.S. Nelson. One of my crew had heard through the grapevine that Shirley had not been feeling well lately and a call had gone out for fans of Star Trek to write Shirley and help bolster her spirits.
I wrote Shirley that same day, and told her I remembered the work she did to save Star Trek and to keep it alive till other fans picked up the torch she had lit those many years ago. She wrote back to me asking questions about the Nelson, and spoke about the fun we had at the Welcommittee. She said in the letter, 'I think we (the Welcommittee) were responsible for keeping Star Trek alive for a long time!' When I wrote her back, I said, most assuredly that the Welcommittee played a large part in saving and keeping alive Star Trek for fans to come.
On April 6th, the Nelson crew, unanimously voted to make Shirley an Honorary crewmember of the Nelson, and I sent out a certificate signifying that vote. I was awaiting Shirley response when I read in the newspaper of her untimely death. I immediately had 2 thoughts, 1 was of a grateful 9 year old boy so many years ago, who learned he was not alone, and the other was the thought she conveyed to me in her last letter to me, that the Welcommittee had made a difference. Of that I have no doubt. May thoughts of what Shirley had accomplished 'Live Long and Proper'.
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