The year was 1998, and the concept of a “fan film” was still unknown, even to most fans. At the time, ROB CAVES was a member of the U.S.S. Angeles chapter of the STARFLEET INTERNATIONAL fan club, and he invited his fellow members to be a part of a new fan series he was calling VOYAGES OF THE U.S.S. ANGELES. It lasted for one full-length feature and five additional short episodes before Rob evolved the series into STAR TREK: HIDDEN FRONTIER, which lasted for seven seasons, releasing  FIFTY episodes of about a half hour each in addition to spawning no less than FIVE spin-off series.

And in the center of all of this—both literally and figuratively, as her character often sat in the command chair on the “bridge” (shot against a green screen)—was JENNIFER COLE. She appeared in a total of 23 of those 50 episodes, plus 6 episodes of spin-off series STAR TREK: ODYSSEY, 2 of spin-off series STAR TREK: HENGLAAR, M.D., and the crossover fan film (with STAR TREK: INTREPID) OPERATION BETA SHIELD. Jennifer also directed that crossover fan film as well as directing 17 episodes of HF! And all told, on her IMBd page, Jennifer has producer credits on nearly FIVE DOZEN Star Trek fan films from HF and various spin-off series!

What’s most notable about all of this is that Jennifer wasn’t particularly interested in filmmaking before all of this began. Although she lived in Los Angeles, CA, she wasn’t really involved with Hollywood (she worked in a local F.B.I. office, of all things!). She had never taken an acting class or a filmmaking class, and she seldom dealt with the technical aspects of video production like camera lenses or the minutiae of green screen compositing. That was always Rob Caves’ department.

Additionally, Jennifer didn’t exactly have what one might call a “Starfleet” body type. Indeed, she struggled with obesity (as many fans do, including myself). But she never shied away from appearing in front of the camera, and that inspired many other fans to do the same, regardless of their appearance. Jenn was proof for any fan who needed it that Star Trek fan films could be made for the fun of it—even though it was often hard work—and that “anyone could make a fan film.” The trick was simply in having the confidence, determination, and organization to just go for it and make it happen.

And Jenn was amazingly organized! Over the years, after co-founding the U.S.S. Angeles in 1995, Jenn served as first officer, commanding officer, and second officer of the club at various points from then onward. Until her health started deteriorating a few years ago, Jenn found a way to attend nearly every chapter event, regardless of how far she had to drive or fly. One of her favorite places to visit was Star Trek: The Experience in Las Vegas, and I snapped many of photo of her there enjoying herself…

Jenn was a unique and intriguing combination of no-nonsense and whimsy. She knew how to be serious and get things accomplished, but she also knew how to joke and have a good time—and never one to the exclusion of the other. She was, at heart, a good person, choosing not to disparage people or Star Trek series or anything that fans so often get incensed about on social media.

It’s not that Jenn didn’t have strong opinions. She most certainly did. She just didn’t feel the need to shout those opinions through her keyboard. Instead, she just quietly enjoyed Star Trek, Doctor Who, and a host of other sci-fi with friends, family, and fellow fans. She was reliable, loyal, honest to a fault, a good sport about many things, and just fun to be around and hang with.

People often wonder, when they read a eulogy/tribute like this: how did she die? And yeah, if your curious, by the time she went into hospice at St. John’s Hospital in Santa Monica last week, Jennifer was pretty much in worse shape than the U.S.S. Constellation in the TOS episode “The Doomsday Machine.” (Jenn would have loved that joke!) She had ovarian cancer, bowel obstruction, diabetes, pulmonary edema, and kidney failure. So how did she die? Take your pick.

But I would much rather that rather people ask: how did she live? And in that, I can honestly say that Jennifer Cole had a great life as a fan, surrounded by other fans who loved her as much as she loved them. A person like Jenn could have retreated into herself, living a life of isolation, shyness, and self-consciousness. But Jennifer did the opposite. She never shied away from anything or anyone, ready to take on any challenge. On countless occasions, Jenn brought other fans together for elaborate events, conventions, and adventures of all sorts here in Star Trek‘s back yard…

And Jenn never stopped living, giving, and being a part of fandom as much as she could be. Even as recently as a few months ago, no longer able to attend as many in-person events as she used to, Jenn was still the one (as she always had been) to mail me my subscription renewal reminder postcard for the U.S.S. Angeles…hand-signed, of course. And even though we hadn’t seen each other in quite a while—as I personally go to few chapter events these days—it just felt good to know that Jenn was still out there.

Sadly, “Next Jenn,” as her friends called her, is no longer with us. She passed away earlier today leaving family, friends, loved ones, and even fans of her efforts on Hidden Frontier in the early days of Star Trek fan films to mourn her loss. We will all miss you, Jenn. But you will be remembered, honored, and celebrated by so many for who you were, what you did, and how you lived.

Is the word given, Admiral? The word is given…warp speed.

11 thoughts on “R.I.P. JENNIFER COLE (1967-2024) of STAR TREK: HIDDEN FRONTIER”

  1. Wow, so very nice. I learned quite a bit about Jenn from reading this. Well written.

    My view: She was a driving force in the USS Angeles, especially the early years. Always very welcoming to new folks (like me, back when I was new). She lived a very interesting life, and we’ll all miss her.

  2. “(She’s) really not dead…so long as we remember her.”

    “It’s a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done before. A far…better resting place I go to, than I have ever known.”

  3. Hidden Frontier was the series that got me into fan productions and she was a pivotal figure in making it, both in front and behind the camera. Her energy was always very evident. She will be sorely missed by the whole community.

    I’d like to ad, I remember her final performance (minus one or two later flashback scenes) as her namesake officer as very touching and she also shone as the evil but not too evil Grand Majan on Odessey.

  4. so sad to hear that. 🙁
    after all what she did for the star trek fanfilm universe, she never will be forgotten.
    in our hearts and in our star trek fanfilm collection too she will be always alive.

    sven (star trek reviewed)

  5. I worked with Jennifer for over 20 years and this was such a perfect tribute for her. She was corky but that’s what made her a special person. She was also an amazing worker. She knew her job so well. I will definitely miss her but I’m happy she will no longer be suffering. I’m so grateful to have know her.

  6. Thank you SO much for this beautiful tribute to my little sister, Jenn. I will miss her every single day of my life. But I am so grateful that she has been released from the pain and from the suffering I witnessed first hand. And I’m so thankful for the life that Jenn led. I’m learning more and more from others how she affected their lives for the better. Please know how important her family, co-workers and dear friends were to Jenn. These long established relationships helped sustain her through some terribly difficult times. Sadly there were too many of those toward the end. So many hospitalizations and procedures. But also wonderful doctors and angel nurses in the 4th fl Oncology unit at St John’s. We are forever grateful that she was able to be there one last time for hospice. And we are beyond thankful for family and friends who “showed up” for Jenn as she always tried to do for others. Things escalated quickly at the end so it wasn’t possible for as many people to visit as we would have hoped. But we did our best to make sure she new that so many were reaching out to give her love and support. We believe she heard and understood. Life is eternal. Jenn lives on surrounded by loved ones who went before. As I told her before she left us, “I’ll catch up with you later, sweetie.”

    1. Just so you know, Paula, a link to this blog was posted to Facebook in many Star Trek fan club and fan film groups. Thoughts and comments about Jenn have been coming in from across the world. Jenn was loved and admired by so many. I’m so sorry for your/our loss, but Jennifer gave so much to so many while she lived, and that legacy is such a blessing for us all.

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