Paying tribute to a legend
“A life is like a garden. Perfect moments can be had, but not preserved, except in memory. LLAP.”
Those words, immortalized in the digital realm on Twitter, were some of Leonard Nimoy’s final public words. Those words were embodied on Saturday in Vulcan as dozens of individuals, families and fans came to the Cultural Recreation Centre to pay tribute to the late actor.
Nimoy, best known for his role as Spock on Star Trek, died at the age of 83 after succumbing to his battle with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).
People from all corners of the province came to Vulcan, Nimoy’s adopted home town and official Star Trek capital of Canada, to share their stories and eulogize the passing of an iconic pop culture figure and pay homage to a man many of them had never met.
Local officials and residents shared their personal stories of what it was like to have met Nimoy and the impact he had on their lives and in the community.
Mayor Tom Grant, who was also the mayor at the time of Nimoy’s visit to the town in 2010, was one of the speakers at the tribute.
“He was such a humbling man to visit with,” said Grant during an interview. “He had this ability to lower himself to our level and make you feel like you were one of them.”
All sharing stories during the Nimoy tribute were Devan Daniels, tourism administrator with the Vulcan and District Tourism Society, Shannon Clarke, assistant tourism administrator, Dayna Dickens, a former tourism co-ordinator who played an instrumental part in bringing Nimoy to Vulcan, Russell Skeet, Sun County radio personality, Shawn Webster, a local doctor, and Lyle Magnuson of the Vulcan and District Chamber of Commerce.
The story of how Nimoy made a visit to Vulcan started following the town’s failed 18-month campaign to hold the 2009 world premiere of the new Star Trek reboot.
After hearing of this defeat, Dickens picked up the phone at the Vulcan Tourism and Trek Station one day and the other end of the line was none other than Nimoy himself, inquiring about the failed attempt at holding the premiere.
While Nimoy wasn’t able to bring the world premiere to Vulcan, he was able to help persuade Paramount Pictures to invite 300 local residents to a sneak preview of the movie in Calgary.
Weeks later, the Vulcan Tourism and Trek Station received a call from a promoter for the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo inquiring if there was interest in forming a partnership to bring Nimoy to Calgary for the expo, kicking it all off by bringing Nimoy to Vulcan.
The partnership was successful and, in April 2010, Nimoy did in fact come to town.
The actor was presented with a bronze bust in his likeness and an imprint of his hand giving his trademark Vulcan salute was taken. The bust, along with the imprint of his hand, are on display in the downtown.
“He made me feel like i was welcome, he made me feel like I was a friend,” said Grant, who toured Nimoy him around Vulcan. “No matter where he was he didn’t look down on anybody.”
A video, prepared by MDC Productions, chronicling the life and times of Nimoy, was shown after the speeches.
A stain glass portrait of Spock was presented to the Vulcan Tourism and Trek Station by Vulcan Town Coun. Rick Howard, who spent over three weeks perfecting it.
One of the tribute’s attendees was Ron Mussli, a 57-year-old Star Trek fan from Calgary who made the trip specifically for the memorial.
“I loved the event. I’ve been a Star Trek fan since my teens, so it’s been about 45 years at least,” said Mussli during an interview.
“I wanted to see the memorial for Nimoy because I found him to be an exceptional character in the original series. It just felt appropriate to come down and enjoy the atmosphere.”
Another attendee, former Vulcan resident Jeff Cummings, drove from Edmonton for the event, both in a professional and personal capacity.
Cummings, a self-proclaimed Trekkie, works for The Lung Association of Alberta and the Northwest Territories.
“We thought we should be here today. Leonard Nimoy has done so much with regards to raising awareness about COPD.”
COPD impacts 80,000 Albertans and it is the No. 1 reason for hospital visits across Canada, said Cummings.
“We were really heartbroken when he passed away because he did so much after being diagnosed with COPD to raise awareness and prevention,” said Cummings during an interview.
“We were really touched on a personal level and it really impacted us. One of my co-workers broke into tears when he heard of Nimoy’s passing. He was so talented and down to earth. To be here today to see just how much of an impact he has in the town of Vulcan is truly amazing.”