I am not one to use the terms role model or hero lightly. In today’s world, those terms are thrown around so easily and applied to Hollywood celebrities and sports figures, it demeans the use of the terms.
We all have them however. In my life, other than my father, one of the most influential people in my life was also one of the most humble and unassuming persons that you would have the fortune to meet. I am refering to my uncle Ray. He never married, never had kids, didn’t get rich and wasn’t a powerful politician.
He did however make a difference in everyone’s life who meet him. He was a prolific letter writer. If you were lucky enough to get one of his letters, you knew right away that it was written by someone who had a unique insight into how humans related to each other. He had an incredible memory and used it to record and pass along some of the most interesting “Tall Tales” that were told on the Great Plains of America.
As a testament to his enduring friendships, two weeks after he passed away, I received a phone call from the VA hospital were he had been. On the other end was a WWII friend of his in his 70’s who had driven across the country by himself to see his old friend one last time. I invited him over to my house and he spent several hours that evening telling us stories about my uncle and his selflessness that endured him to all of his buddies in the service. As was his custom, my uncle had never bragged or related any of these stories to us in the years that followed the war. Even in his death he taught me invaluable lessons about friendship.
So you are probably asking what this has to do with Amateur Radio. Well the other day I was out working on a new console for some of my radios. I came upon an old Hallicrafters S-38 that my uncle had given me. You see he was a Radio Corpsman during the war. I was always amazed at the old S-38 and it got me interested in electronics and although Ray was never a licensed Amateur, he encouraged me to get my license.
So one of my next projects will be to restore the old S-38 and get it working like new again. Then every time I fire it up, I can honor one of my first role models and I am not ashamed to say one of my hero’s.