Remembering Leonard Nimoy

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Photo: Gage Skidmore

In honor of Leonard Nimoy’s life, on the occasion of his passing, several of us at GeekDad would like to offer our personal remembrances. The first part was written by Matt Blum, the second by Jenny Bristol, and the third by John “Hex” Carter.

I was only six years old when I first saw Star Trek. It was 1979, and I went to see ST: The Motion Picture in the theaters. I’m sure I didn’t understand a lot of it, but it made a big impression on me nonetheless. A few years later, when I saw Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, I got enough of it to fully convert me to a Trekkie (or Trekker, or whatever term you prefer). In particular, I loved Spock.

Spock was a scientist, profoundly logical, and yet he was heroic and a great friend as well. When he was made fun of, he gave as good as he got – and often better – and he always commanded respect. I wanted to be Spock. I went to more Star Trek conventions than I can remember, seeing Nimoy several times (as well as the rest of the stars). I had Vulcan ear tips, and with stage makeup and my mom’s help, I made them blend in with my ears, and I made my eyebrows diagonal. I could never quite master raising just my right eyebrow, but not for lack of trying, that’s for sure.

Nimoy was a great speaker, fully aware of his fame and the huge number of people who idolized him but somehow keeping it from inflating his ego. He was in a way as inspirational as himself as he was as Spock: he was the son of Jewish immigrants from what was then the Soviet Union who grew up in the West End of Boston. He didn’t come from any sort of privileged upbringing, yet became the portrayer of one of the most recognizable characters in TV and movie history. He also invented the Vulcan salute, probably the most famous hand gesture to come from popular media. (Indeed, Nimoy liked to tell the story that he had based the salute on a gesture made by the elders at his synagogue when he was young, when he wasn’t supposed to look but peeked anyway.)

I will always remember seeing him in person, will remember meeting him (albeit very briefly, in the autograph line), and will continue to re-watch the best of his work as Spock. I feel like I’ve lost a good friend, though I was a stranger to him. The world is surely a poorer place for his passing, and yet his influence lives on. How many scientists, engineers, astronauts, mathematicians, and programmers (such as myself) would have made a different choice for their careers if not for Mr. Spock? There are few other fictional characters that have inspired so many people in so many ways, and it’s hard to imagine that that could have happened if not for Nimoy.

As so many have said since his passing yesterday, he truly did live long and prosper. But it is also true that his life might have been even longer had he not gotten COPD, most likely due to smoking for a long time. If you want to honor his memory, consider donating to the COPD Foundation, which raises money for research into a cure for the disease.

And now, just to end on an up-note, here’s a YouTube video someone made of the sound check for the Mugar Omni Theater at the Boston Museum of Science, which Nimoy recorded many years ago. Trust me, it’s worth a quick listen.

-by Matt Blum

I don’t have any personal memories of Leonard Nimoy. I’ve never seen him at a convention or anything. But my entire childhood was filled with Star Trek reruns. Along with shows like M*A*S*H, my mom would put on Star Trek reruns and we’d all watch as she made dinner. We saw all of the movies when they came out. I can’t remember a time when Star Trek wasn’t a part of my life, all beginning with The Original Series. Much, much more than Captain Kirk, Spock defines Star Trek for me. He always felt like someone I knew. He will be greatly missed.

-by Jenny Bristol

I wasn’t much of a Trekkie growing up, but Leonard Nimoy always felt like an elder statesmen among the geeky pop culture icons. One of those that you looked up to and were inspired to do better. I’m the kind of guy who grieves best with a smile, so I felt I’d share a music video he was in a few years back for a Bruno Mars song. You lived long. You prospered. You will be missed but not forgotten.

-by John “Hex” Carter

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