Did you know that Cleveland has a strong connection to Star Trek? In fact, the first public showing of Star Trek occurred at a sci-fi convention at the Hotel Sheraton. And, Majel Lee Hudec Barrett, known as the First Lady of Star Trek and the wife of Star Trek’s creator, Gene Roddenberry, was born and raised here in Cleveland. Her father, uncle, grandfather and great uncle all served honorably with the Cleveland Police.
Majel’s father, William Hudec, #116, was appointed to the Cleveland Police Department on March 1, 1941 and served for fourteen years. Hudec worked on the vice squad and then, for many years, served with his longtime partner Warren Stainbrook as “wagon men,” staffing a police ambulance.
On August 30, 1955, Hudec and Stainbrook had just completed an assignment and were returning to their district headquarters when their ambulance was struck by a train, throwing both officers into the air.
Neighbors called the emergency police number for help but confusion broke out when radio dispatch attempted to call Hudec to dispatch his ambulance to the scene. Both Hudec and Stainbrook were pronounced dead on arrival when transported to St. Luke’s Hospital. Services were held at Vodrazka Funeral Home, 3315 E. 55 Street with interment at White Haven Memorial Park.
His daughter Majel was on tour with an off-Broadway road company when the accident claimed her father’s life.
Majel’s uncle, Raymond F. Hudec #116, joined the Cleveland Police on November 9, 1933 and served until his retirement as a Lieutenant on January 22, 1961. Raymond first wore the #116 badge, which was later transferred to his brother William after Raymond was promoted to Sergeant. Lt. Hudec worked in many of the city’s districts over his career, which also included time as the supervisor of the police radio room. Raymond also held a law degree from Cleveland Marshall Law School and a masters in education from Kent State University. While policing was his full time career, he added part-time law work, volunteer fire fighting and substitute teaching to his busy schedule. After his retirement from the force, he ran (unsuccessfully) for mayor of Pepper Pike, state representative and Cuyahoga County Sheriff and worked as a lawyer for the US Navy.
Majel’s grandfather and father to Raymond and William R. was William J. Hudec, #386. He joined the Cleveland Police at age 23 on March 23, 1904 and was promoted to sergeant in 1913. In addition to his regular duties, Hudec played right field for the department’s baseball team. In 1919, while serving as part of a “flying squadron,” William risked “his life twice in two minutes last evening” when he leapt from a moving car onto a train and apprehended an armed fugitive. William J. died of natural causes at 47 years old.
Majel’s great-uncle, Steven Hendrick’s joined the Cleveland Police on October 22, 1917. Hendrick’s lived next door to his sister Julia and her husband, William J. Hudec. Hendrick’s served most of his 31 years with the force “on traffic duty at the busy corners on the Southeast Side” of Cleveland. Upon his retirement in 1948, a large crowed of residents and businessmen, including W.O. Walker, the editor of the Call & Post, filled a hotel ballroom to applaud his service. They gifted Hendricks with “an expensive wrist watch and a $150 purse made up of remembrances from businessmen and others who said they never wanted Hendricks to forget how much they appreciated him…Though the years, residents regarded him as helpful and cheerful as well as efficient and loyal.”
The first public showing of Star Trek was presented by Gene Roddenberry in Cleveland on September 6, 1966 at the world science fiction convention and Hugh Awards ceremony. This was two days before the show premiered on NBC. The annual convention, called TriCon because of the three participating cities of Cleveland, Columbus and Detroit, brought over 800 fans to Cleveland. Fans and enthusiasts shared their love for the genre and rubbed shoulders with some of the greatest sci-fi authors, including Isaac Asimov, Robert Silverberg and Harlan Ellison.
The USS Challenger is the Cleveland Chapter of the International Federation of Trekkers, a nonprofit dedicated to community service. The group supports the Cleveland Police Museum through donations to our In the Line of Duty interactive exhibit, which tells the story of Cleveland’s fallen officers. The USS Challenger is a $1000 Platinum Sponsor of the exhibit, in memory of Patrolman William R. Hudec.
Join the IFT and the Cleveland Police Museum at a donation presentation ceremony on Sunday, September 26 at IFT World Headquarters at 501 Cleveland Road West, Huron OH 44839. Attendees can have their photos taken in a screen accurate, original series captain’s chair, tour the museum and see vintage police vehicles.
Article written by Mazie Adams, Executive Director of the Cleveland Police Historical Society & Museum, 2021