I can remember well the summer of 1957, when Dad came hone in the middle of the day, all excited about something he was carrying into our mobile home. Television was kind of new then. flit I knew right away that this was no ordinary TV. It had no viewing screen. Dad explained that this was not a television, but a ham radio, as he hooked it up to our TV antenna so he could listen to it. The white housing on the radio read GONSET COMMUNICATOR III. This would be the start of a 36 year love affair between my dad and amateur radio. Dad's first ham call sign was K9KLU.
Dad got Grandpa interested, and they both spent long nights
talking on the radio in conversations that included many other
hams. Back then the mode operation was AM.
The first award that K9KLU earned was a PUBLIC SERVICES AWARD issued by the ARRL in May of 1960. He earned his first award by providing the emergency radio communications to summon police and ambulance to the scene of a life threatening automobile accident.
In 1960, Dad earned his first of many contest awards by
finishing first in the SIX METFR CLUB OF CHICAGO SWEEPSTAKES. By
the time we moved to Jackson, Michigan, in the fall of 1960, Dad
was in the contest groove as K8WKZ, and six meters was his band
Oh, he played around with other VHF/UHF bands, but without being
aware of it, he was making a name for himself few men enjoyed, or
will. In the hearts of his fellow operators, he would come to be
known as Mr. Six Meters.
Dave's QSL Card
K8WKZ jumped into ham radio as a technician, and remained one for 35 years. Not because he lacked technical ability for he built most of his own equipment, but because he enjoyed six meters so much hat he saw no need to build the code speed up for more band privileges. His specialties were antennas, (especially the 120 foot boom sixer), and amplifiers. Being an avid six meter operator meant dealing with a lot of folks that preferred to watch Their favourite shows on TV rather Than listening to Dad. The Drake Company made a lot of money selling low pass filters to my Dad. He wanted to be a good neighbour to those around him and often provided the necessary filters and even paid the hook-up fee for some neighhours to connect to cable television to eliminate TVI.
By the time he moved, in 1972, to Wolf Lake, about I5 miles south-east of Jackson, he had enough paper to cover the panelled walls of his new ham shack (and it was no small room!). Among them the U.S. County award, WAS, WAC, and was closing in on DXCC, all on six meters. There has been some criticism of some six meter operators that made partial contacts on six, and then go over to 28.885MHz to get the rest of the exchange to complete the QSO As a technician, Dad had no privileges in that portion of the ten meter band, therefore did not have the benefit of such practice. That makes me even more proud of his accomplishments. Dad had many good friends among the local ham community. I can recall many nights that Dad and Mom would go fox (transmitter), hunting. Dad was not a real joiner, in the true sense of the word. He was more of a soloist, but did enjoy occasional activities with the local club, Dad's joy was rather, to make friends with a wider circle of people all over the country and the world.
When the ARRL came the with the grid square plan and the VUCC
award, Dad wanted to be the first in the world to earn it and
was! No one else will ever share that spot. While it was
important for Dad to get all he could, he still made time to run
rare grid squares for others. Many owe the date on their VUCC
award to K8WKZ.
In the year of 1990, Dad earned the coveted DXCC award for six meters. First in the 8 call area and 8th in the world. In the sprint of 199l, I decided to join Dad in all the excitement on SIX meters. I surprised him with the good news, having passed to codeless tech exam. Our relationship grew to become more of a friendship than a kinship. He helped me find my first two meter all-mode, on a used equipment list and provided my first six meter rig. He was thrilled, when free months later, I earned VUCC on six meters, and WAS two months after that. We were having a great time DXing on six, but the sunspot cycle was about to end our DX activity. I, perhaps, enjoyed the CW work a little more than Dad. I became very active on forty meter CW and my code speed increased to about 20 wpm. Weak at the best on the theory, but with sufficient code speed, I was able to upgrade to general in January 1992.
Dave's first F2 opening G.
Dad was a grid square nut! When he asked what I had planned for my 1992 vacation. I told him that I had been impressed by some or the VHF operators who operate portable in rare grid squares, and might give it a try myself. He lacked only four grid squares to complete the grid square Maidenhead EN. Guess where I went for a vacation. Those four grid squares! I do not know of anyone else that has every EN and EM grid square confirmed.
The month following the trip. Dad surprised me. He asked if wanted to drive over to the nearest place where the FCC tests were being given and watch him upgrade. That he did, and the bonds grew stronger than ever between us. We talked on every hand I had equipment for, guiding each other to new counties, both working for low band DXCC awards We talked off the RS-l0 satellite, and via aurora. When I made business trips to the Caribbean or California I would take a radio so I could talk to Dad.
We made plans to vacation together, Dad, Mom Linda and I. The plan was to go into north-western Quebec and activate a few add squares that as far as I know, had never seen VHF grid square activity.
Our trip was threatened when, in February 1993, Dad was diagnosed with cancer. Surgery relieved Dad of the immediate problem of not being able to eat, but the cancer continued to spread throughout his body K8WKZ was not ore to give up though. Be said he felt well enough to make the June 993 trip, and in doing so was able to make neatly 800 QSOs from FN17 and FN18.
Five weeks later Dad left this world. I fully intend to obtain QSL earls from at least 100 of those we worked from FN17 and apply for Dad's VUCC. He did not make the Dayton Hamfest this year, but he did make the trip with me. For that I will be eternally gratefull.
K8WKZ de N8NQS - 73 Dad
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