It is with great sadness that Star Trek fans across the planet are mourning the loss of one of the original members of Gene Roddenberry’s crew of the intrepid Enterprise. Grace Lee Whitney was 85 years old and passed away of natural causes in her home on May 1st, 2015.
Star Trek fans will remember Grace Lee’s portrayal of Yeoman Rand on the original series, as Captain Kirk’s Yeoman in the first season of the classic Star Trek series. While Rand’s tenure on Star Trek would not last into the second season, due to her issues with addiction, she was lovingly given the opportunity to revisit her character in some of the Star Trek movies that followed, as well as the reprisal of Janice Rand’s character on Star Trek Voyager as the communication’s officer on Captain Sulu’s ship, the U.S.S. Excalibur.
It is safe to say that Grace Lee embraced her connection to Star Trek and was always accessible to the fans, while not shying away from talking and writing about her experiences during her time on Star Trek. When talking about her time on the classic Star Trek, Grace Lee was quite open about the alleged sexual assault at the hands of one of the show’s producers, as well frank discussions pertaining to her addictions while being a cast member of the original Trek.
Fans will also be familiar with Grace Lee’s passion for her faith, which she also credits with helping to save her both spiritually as well as physically. From personal experience I can also tell you that as sweet a woman as most folks will remember Grace Lee as, she was also quite a strong personality who would not shy away from speaking her mind and taking tough stances on issues she felt strongly about.
I can recall when I drew some satires for her of Yeoman Rand, Grace Lee took one look at the character I drew and looking at me with a smile and a side long glance simply said, “Sorry Tye, but I am much prettier than that!” to which we all laughed and I of course redrew her character. By the same token, Grace Lee was always very supportive of my science fiction satires and even encouraged me to create more work and for that I will always be grateful for her personal approval of my cartoons!
Every time I saw her at one convention or another, Grace Lee would ask about my children as well as to see what new cartoons I had drawn. She simply cared about those who cared about her and she was never afraid to tell you how she felt and for that I will also be grateful and remember her fondly.
But most importantly, many fans and convention attendees were regularly treated to an amazing experience by having had the pleasure of getting to know the person behind the character as Grace Lee knew how special her fans were. She also realized just how lucky she was to have been a part of something so much larger than herself and she always helped those whom she came into contact to also realize the beauty and grandeur that was Star Trek!
Thank you for your contributions to Star trek Grace Lee, as well as for the deep love and affection you showed to each of your fans and friends who will miss your laughter, stories and good hearted nature. Until we all meet you again at that big convention in the sky Grace Lee , you will be missed so very much!