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The oldest operator...


K3MRI
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Right to the end?  

14 members have voted

  1. 1. How old was (or is) the oldest 'still-active' amateur radio operator you have known (or communicated with)?

    • 51-55
      0
    • 56-60
      0
    • 61-65
      1
    • 66-70
      0
    • 71-75
      2
    • 76-80
      1
    • 81-85
      0
    • 86-90
      2
    • 91-95
      6
    • 96-100
      2
    • 101+
      0
  2. 2. Inversely, how young was the youngest ham that you've known?

    • Under 10
      5
    • 10-14
      6
    • 15-19
      1
    • 20-24
      1
    • 25+
      1


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ELMER

I keep thinking about how old I'll live to and, more importantly, if I'll be able to operate right to the end. Will I make it to 100? Of course not, but if I did, would I still be operating? Which begs the question, which I'll ask in a poll: how old is the oldest operator you've known and what stood out about his or her journey and the tales they had to tell of magical QSOs?

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  • 2 weeks later...


I don't know just how old he was, but I knew Max Otto, WØLFF who was originally licensed as 9LFF.  He was in his teens when he got his first license.  In those days, according to Max, you had to sign a document agreeing to appear, at the FCC's discretion, to be tested to prove your knowledge of radio practices and theory.  He didn't know diddly-squat and was hoping the FCC would forget to test him.  Well, they did eventually contact him, and Max had a brief period of abject panic and feverish cramming before he appeared for testing.

When country prefixes came into being, 9LFF became W9LFF, and then later when the FCC added the tenth call district, Max became WØLFF.   He spent his working years as an air controller for the FAA.  When I knew him in the late 1970's, Max was the Iowa ARRL Section Manager.  He was very active both on the air as well as in the local club.  He had a dry sense of humor, and always was armed with an amusing anecdote or two.  Like the time he and his wife were returning home from a trip.  They had about 80 miles of interstate driving left before they made it home when they decided to stop at a rest stop on I-80 outside Des Moines. 

The rest area was filled with people picnicking.  The group, it turns out, was holding a family reunion.  As odd as it was to find a family reunion being held at an interstate rest stop, their reaction to Max and his XYL was totally unexpected. They were greeted with a warm enthusiasm.  It was as if Max was a long-lost family member.  In a way, he was.  You see, the crowd had noticed Max's call plate on his car - WØLFF - and it just so happened that that particular rest stop was the meeting place for the Wolff family reunion.  Max tried to explain that WØLFF was not his name, but it didn't matter.  He was adopted into the Wolff family and spent the afternoon enjoying good food, good company, and new friends.

 

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ELMER

Thanks for that MaryAnn. What an absolutely lovely story. As for the voluntary appearance, my ignorance is confirmed. I did not know that’s how it worked. How fascinating.

You know, I’ve been around amateur radio since I was born but now realize that other than the major milestones, I don’t really know the rich history that takes the hobby from the earliest days, through wars, disasters, and moments of joy and arrival. I say this because the first place my dad turned to for the announcement of my birth to his friends was on air. I was born at 11:45 PM and, according to my mom, the first thing he told her at the hospital was that he had to rush home to tell his friends… read fellow hams. Not sure if she ever forgave him!? Anyway, my point is that some history is in my agenda for coming months.

Last point, I think the ARRL, Hamvention, Hamcation, and any other hamfests with conferences should include a few old timers to tell their story; I’m sure we will discover some amazing nuggets!

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  • 3 weeks later...
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ELMER

Sidebar... have been hanging around the 147.300 machine a lot lately. What reach!

Back on topic: you're right Lind, CW is mostly reserved for us older gents.

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  • 3 months later...
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You mentioned the possibility of living to age 100 and mused about the possibility of still operating. Consider Frank. While he wasn't anywhere near 100, he did have limitations and, except when his health prevented him from being there, he operated right up to the end. The only question is that of being in an assisted living facility and whether or not they would allow a station on premises.

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ELMER

Interesting thought about assisted living facilities. I’m involved with the Brothers of the Holy Cross (I went to a Holy Cross high school) and I offered to install a shack in one of their two retirement homes because they had two retired brothers who were licensed but by the time we were ready, they had passed and there were no other licensed hams in the retirement pipeline. I’m actually not sure if there are retirement facilities with either a shack or who would be tolerant of an antenna. That would be interesting to look into.

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I think getting an assisted living facility to set up a dedicated station would meet with resistance (especially considering that any hams there might not be arround too long). My  thoughts were along the lines of a ham setting up a station in his apartment (my mother in law had her own apartment at the ALF). If close enough to a repeater, a hand held might do. If not, a mobile unit and power supply with some kind of j-pole by a window or balcony. HF operation might be problematic.

 

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  • 1 month later...
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I just remember an incident from my yute (you know - a young person). While it didn't involve an older person, but it did involve an institution. One of my high-school ham buddies spent some time in a hospital. The other hams set up a station (a Benton Harbor Lunchbox I think) in his hospital room with some kind of vertical attached to the bed frame. This was in the days prior to repeaters, so I don't know how well it worked out for him, but no one at the hospital objected.

 

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ELMER
On 7/20/2022 at 3:22 PM, WA2WMR said:

I just remember an incident from my yute (you know - a young person). While it didn't involve an older person, but it did involve an institution. One of my high-school ham buddies spent some time in a hospital. The other hams set up a station (a Benton Harbor Lunchbox I think) in his hospital room with some kind of vertical attached to the bed frame. This was in the days prior to repeaters, so I don't know how well it worked out for him, but no one at the hospital objected.

I absolutely love these kind of feel-good stories. And you know, several of us are involved with setting up hospital nets for emergencies; I wonder why we would not consider donating gear and setup effort to diverse locations. Community centers, assisted living, heck, even volunteer fire departments. I'm not saying all of them, obviously, but I bet we'd increase recruitment and do some good with it. But I'm off topic and being a co-admin of the site, I don't want to have to reprimand myself so I'll maybe start a thread on this topic elsewhere 😇

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