"The two shows are like his family--that's how he described them. He called 'Star Trek' his original children, and 'The Next Generation' his children by a second marriage."
Fan clubs were trying to figure out Friday how to pay homage to Roddenberry.
Some of the "Star Trek" clubs were thinking about joining together to set up a scholarship fund in Roddenberry's name, said Black of Starships of the Third Fleet, whose 400 members consist of aerospace engineers, lawyers, military personnel and doctors.
Jeannette Maddox, president of STARFLEET the International Star Trek Fan Association in Burnsville, N.C., already had solicited support from many of her 6,000 members to create a $1,000 Gene Roddenberry scholarship for aspiring science-fiction writers. The organization already raises money for six annual $500 college scholarships.
"Gene Roddenberry was the one who gave us the vision of the future we were looking for," said Maddox, a veterinarian when she's not tending to her "Star Trek" organization. "He never looked for this kind of treatment. He was almost embarrassed when we turned to him with the kind of awe we have. Most fans treat him with reverence because he was not swayed by people who tried to steer him from his vision, even at times when monetarily he was pressured to do so."
The science-fiction magazine Starlog and several fan club publications scrapped plans for their next scheduled issues in order to pay tribute to Roddenberry. The Official Fan Club has commissioned Keith Birdsong, who illustrates all the "Star Trek" pocket books, for its next cover.
Gary Berman, who organizes 100 "Star Trek" conventions a year for his New York-company Creative Conventions, was not surprised by the reverential treatment being accorded to Roddenberry. "Perhaps more than any other producer, Roddenberry was recognized by the fans," said Berman, who will honor Roddenberry today and Sunday at a convention in Chicago.
Berman said that he will plan an even bigger celebration in Roddenberry's memory when "The Next Generation" crew meets at the Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles in March.
"Producers don't get their time in the sun," Berman said. "The actors get the spotlight. But for 'Star Trek' fans, Roddenberry was a beloved figure. We did a show last June at the Shrine Auditorium, reuniting the old cast, and when he came out at the end, 6,300 people gave him a standing ovation for five minutes."
Daniel Madsen, whose Official Fan Club is licensed by Paramount, feels sure that the "Star Trek" enterprise will not change course.
"Many times when I spoke with Gene, he stressed he believed 'Star Trek' would continue long after he was gone, and there were good, creative people in Hollywood who would carry the flame," Madsen said. "The greatest tribute to Gene is that 'Star Trek' will live long and prosper long after he's gone, and I'm sure that's the way he would want it to be."