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
Remembrances, for inclusion, can be e-mailed to Karen MacLEOD

Grace Lee Whitney, Ellen (Nell) Kozak, Shirley Maiewski at Febcon 1980. Photo provided by Ellen Kozak.

by Ellen (Nell) Kozak

I knew there was something wrong when I didn't get a birthday card from Shirley this year. Because I shared a birthday with her late husband Phil, she never missed sending me a card.

But being swamped with work, it never occurred to me to Google her name; instead, I called her home several times, finally connecting with her daughter Carole, who told me of Shirley's death. Carole and I then shared an hour long reminiscence.

Shirley was my friend-- my very good friend-- although nearly 30 years and nearly a thousand miles separated us most of the time. We met-- where else-- at a Star Trek convention, where we formed a mutual admiration society. I loved her short story, which I remember as being called "The Midsifter," which had been included in an early anthology of Star Trek tales. She loved a fanzine story I had written. We encouraged each other to write more; I went on to publish several fannish stories and two published science fiction (non Star Trek) novels, but Shirley never really got back to writing, except her wonderful monthly Welcommittee newsletters, and the notes she sent to friends.

As I mentioned, we met at a Star Trek convention. We bonded over our mutual love for opera (in our respective youths, we were both-- decades apart-- dedicated to attending the Metropolitan Opera as standees). She recruited me into serving as the (pro bono) legal advisor to the Star Trek Welcommittee. She welcomed me into her home en route to a Boston Worldcon. We roomed together at at least one other con-- a great honor for me, because Shirley treasured her privacy at conventions and seldom shared a room-- but we had a great time together.

Over the years, I ran up a considerable phone bill chatting with her; now that I have free long distance, I had hoped to be able to call her more frequently. I did once, when the free service was first installed last winter. Now I can't. And I will miss the obvious joy with which she greeted a friend's call. I will miss chatting with her about things varied and sundry, from weather to cats to dogs to the current potato crop to her grandchildren and my nephews to health and diet and everything else.

Shirley was a breast cancer survivor-- people have forgotten that because she never mentioned it. She never mentioned any of her problems, although people often confided theirs to her because she was such a good listener. Well, I take that back-- she mentioned the Welcommittee's legal problems, such as they were, to me, but then that was my job. She protected my private address by keeping it out of the Welcommittee directory; as a result, I would receive each newsletter directly from her (instead of in the mass mailing) with a private note.

Granting that I'm fannish and throw nothing away, I have kept those notes, and periodically will come across one; this usually prompted one of my calls to her. She'd send a note, I'd call. I'd find a note, I'd call. I regret that I won't find those notes in my mailbox anymore, although I will, of course, continue to find them among the fannish collections in my house. But, as I mentioned, it was the absence of one of those notes on my birthday that prompted me to call Carole and learn that I had lost a dear friend. I'll miss her.

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