NØWU - May 17, 2008

Wesley Paul Unruh
Lawrence, KS

Services for Wesley Paul Unruh, NØWU, 74, Lawrence, KS, will be at 3 p.m. Saturday, June 7, 2008, at the Unitarian Fellowship of Lawrence. Mr. Unruh died Saturday, May 17, 2008, at his home. The family suggests memorials to Healthcare Access, 1920 Moodie Road, Lawrence, 66046 or Douglas County Visiting Nurses Association and Hospice Care, 200 Maine, 3rd Floor., Lawrence, 66044. Published in the Lawrence (KS) Journal-World, May 21, 2008.

For a more complete tribute to him, please access:


(Thanks to Bill, N1HWC)

A service to celebrate the life of Wesley Paul Unruh will be held at 3pm on 7 June at the Unitarian Fellowship of Lawrence. Wes died at home surrounded by family on Saturday, May 17, 2008, following a courage five-month battle with acute leukemia.

He was born on September 9, 1933 in Champa, India, the son of William F. and Pauline Unruh. His boyhood was spent in Iowa and Kansas. He earned a Bachelor's degree in Physics from Bethel College in Newton, KS followed by a Master's and Doctorate degrees in physics from the University of Kansas. Dr Unruh began his career as a researcher with Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, subsequently taught physics at Ohio University, and was a professor and researcher in the Physics Department at the University of Kansas for fourteen years. The last ten years of his career were spent in research at Los Alamos National Laboratories in New Mexico. During this time, among other projects, he was able to pursue his particular interest in detecting and analyzing tornado formation. He retired in 1994 and returned to live in Lawrence.

Wes had a wide range of interests in addition to his professional career, AS a young man he was a violinist and later studied flute. He became a ship-certified ham radio operator, was n amateur astronomer, loved sailing and canoeing, built an extensive model railroad, and had a deep appreciation to both jazz and classical music. He maintained membership in a number of professional organizations.

Survivors include his wife, Ellie, Lawrence, with whom he shared fifty years if marriage; three daughters; Amy Unruh, Austin, TX; Julie Unruh, Brooklyn, NY; and Ellen Unruh, Canberra, Australia; a brother Will, Palm Beach, FL; two sons-in-law; and two grandsons, Conor and Quinn, sons of Ellen Unruh and her husband Peter Brandon. Wes was especially proud of all of his family.

www.w0uk.net/newsletter/JUN-19 - [Cached]
Published on: 6/1/1999 Last Visited: 12/1/2007


One of them is Wes Unruh. I had the opportunity to visit with Wes for an evening at his home here in Lawrence. Wes has been a ham radio operator for quite a few years. Wes got his first license, a Novice class license, when he was attending Bethel College in 1953. His first contact was on 80 meters, using a long wire and a home made transmitter and receiver. Back then the Novice class license was a one-year-only entry class license, and it lapsed due to difficulties he had with his code speed. Wes graduated, went to graduate school, and became involved with building his career and family.

Around 1973 Wes was visiting his brother in Florida on vacation. It seems that his brother had a shortwave set and Wes had some time to play with it. In scanning across the bands he found that he could understand the code just fine on the 40 meter Novice band. Later that year Wes, by chance, happened upon one other long time club member (Bob Rainbolt, WB0AUQ) during a Field Day outing at Wells Overlook.

As a result of that Field Day encounter Wes took license exams up through Advanced thus renewing his interest in the hobby.

His first contact with his new license was using a wire strung out the screen window from their house on Arkansas Street. Wes was thoroughly pleased to have a contact with someone on only a couple of watts!

Wes had a number of jobs over the years, including a position at Bell Labs (his first job in his field outside school), his position as professor in the Physics Department at the University of Kansas, and a research and development job at the National Laboratory in Los Alamos NM. Wes also apprenticed as a radio officer in the Merchant Marine. This was an alternative career exploration that would not have been possible except for his prior involvement in Amateur Radio, and his code skills.

Through it all, Wes has been very involved in amateur radio. He had a repeater in the area at his house (when he lived on 6th street).

Wes made a number of important friends through the hobby, some of whom made a profound impact on his life. In addition to his many significant friends in Lawrence, he had a regular sked with one friend in particular, who he found to be a delightful conversationalist. They had a lot in common in additional to their interest in radio, and they spent many hours talking with each other using CW in a weekly sked. Wes eventually found out that his friend was physically disabled, having only mobility in part of one hand. This really taught Wes an important lesson about people. According to Wes, "The code is a wonderful leveler between people. It doesn't give you any clues as to the race, background, or physical capacity of the sender. That friendship really changed me in that it taught me that you can strive for excellence and learning no matter what your situation." It is clear to anyone that knows Wes that he is definitely one who strives for excellence. This friend of Wes' pushed him to upgrade his license to extra class. They both went to take their exam together and both passed.

Over the years, Wes has found "amazing interesting people at code speeds above 25 to 30 wpm." He finds the people who work the code at those speeds to have a great respect for curiosity and learning. He feels that they often are above average in consideration and understanding.

Wes, thank you for the opportunity to spend an evening learning from you at your home.