I remember where I was when we heard Gene had died.
We, of course, were still back "home home"...in what they call flyover land: Janet and I had been married just four months and two days... we had just moved to Midwest City to be near her college, and I was commuting to the Norman Transcript... the phone call from Pocket Books to do the first TNG Companion was a month away... and on this day, at this moment, the old-style, REAL Headline News was on TV. And broke the story.
I had to sag into a chair at the kitchen table when I heard. I called Janet over. We immediately began to try to tape off CNN—back when it was real news, and the *only* 24-hour news. It's all we could do. As with millions of others worldwide, that instant would become a flashpoint of memory—and a trigger, in that moment, to realize what the Great Bird had meant to us, even subconsciously. Even before my career went to Trekland. If nothing else, Gene's creation was why and how Janet and I had even met.
I met him only once... a bit more than a year earlier... to thank me (!!??) for doing my self-published TNG concordances that the writers had been using. As a first-time tourist, I'd actually paid attention to the Paramount signs and not brought a camera on-lot. To my everlasting regret. But that moment, that image is etched into my memory, as well.
And, of course, of the headliner names of Trek... not to forget Gene Coon or Bill Theiss... Gene was also the first to go. Our immortal little universe would become all too mortal, and it's been increasingly so. In hindsight, I think the biggest insight into what "GR" was all about... was realizing later that Majel decided to go on with their annual Halloween party that year a week later, knowing that's what he'd want.
He lived a big life, he lived a hard life, and it certainly wasn't a perfect life...or done all by himself. But oh, what Gene Roddenberry wrought.