Maurice L. 'Maury' Sproul - W5UGQ
Amarillo, TX
QCWA # 35340

Chapter 141 is fortunate to have Maurice Sproul as a member. Maury, one of those who is normally a reasonably quiet person, certainly captures your attention when he enters a room. His areas of interest exceed those of the typical ham which become obvious as our story unfolds.

Maury's given name is Maurice, possibly French, and it is pronounced Morris. His family uses the pronunciation of their surname Sproul that comes out right if you think of "owl" when you say it, as if it were spelled S-P-R-O-W-L, in fact one variation of the name "Sprowl" is spelled that way. It is a Scots-Irish name.

Maurice Sproul was born on a farm with no electricity or running water near Soldier, Kansas in 1935. Soldier is a small community in north eastern Kansas, its current population is 128. Maury moved into the town of Soldier in 1947, age 12. He finished high school in 1953 at Clay Center, Kansas; there were 88 students in his graduating class. He earned a science award in High School.

In those years Maury hunted and fished with his family,ie his parents and two younger brothers. One might be surprised at how nice of a campsite one could erect with a bobtailed truck and a canvas tarp. Sleeping on the truck bed was pretty nice when the wheat harvest was complete and it was a week until school started.

To earn extra money Maury worked after school, delivering telegrams while riding on a motor scooter. In 2010 we find Maury still riding two wheelers, but somewhat larger and faster than the scooter he rode as a boy.

As a young man, probably in his junior high years, Maury's ambitions were to work in the munitions industry. He attended Kansas State University from 1953-1957, graduating in 1957 with a B.S. in Chemical Engineering. He went to work for Mason & Hanger-Silas Mason Company in August 1957. That was the beginning of 41 years with that firm, doing contract work in seven states. Throughout his career Maury's work was varied and interesting.

Maury's first amateur radio license came in the spring of 1958, K0SVT, his QTH was Iowa; he was working at the Iowa Ordnance Plant, in the "munitions industry." Perhaps I should comment that the first radio that captured Maurice Sproul's attention was probably his parent's old farm radio. It was battery powered, the batteries were not rechargeable, and were considered as being expensive, so it was only turned on for news reports, farm forecasts, and such.

During the Iowa years Maury got his private pilot's license. His instructor told him that he had made the highest score on the written test of anyone who had taken the test in that location. His habit of studying in a serious way probably helped him attain that achievement. Some years later Maury attended hot air balloon classes.

After getting well into amateur radio, Maury elected to get a commercial ticket and in the late sixties he acquired his commercial radiotelephone license. Now he could work on commercial radios.

It was in 1956 that he married Elizabeth Cole. They had identical twin sons in 1959. Those twin sons later married twin sisters.

From Iowa the Sprouls moved to Amarillo, Texas, then to New Jersey, then Lexington, Kentucky. Maury studied and earned his RPE (EE) while in Kentucky. He holds Professional Engineering Licenses in Kentucky, Arkansas, and Alabama. They moved from Kentucky to Arkansas, then Alabama, then back to Texas again.

From his acquiring a ham license in 1958 he has always had a radio - then computer - workshop in his home. His wife Betty told me their sons learned how things worked and how to fix many things from their Dad. When their sons were in college, they lived at home. The boys brought their college friends home to learn "hands on" what the inside of a computer was and how it worked. She continued "Maurice has always shared his knowledge with those who were interested."

Betty advised that Maurice built Heathkits and other things back in the days of vacuum tubes. She recalled that cabinets needed fans for cooling in those days. Maurice had a computer at home; he built it, before most realized that one could even have a computer at home. He rented Global Positioning System very early in that instrument's history. Now he has several GPSs.

One of his current projects is "Time Nuts." He is among those designing and building 10 MHz frequency standards to achieve accuracies better than 1 part in 10 to the 12th. A bit more serious than the 100 KC frequency standards we had in our National NC-300 receivers. Today we have ovenized oscillators. The SC cut crystals have been around for some time. Cesium and rubidium standards have found their way to a few hamshacks.

W5UGQ is a seasoned ham, he has transitioned from vacuum tubes to transistors, through several generations of integrated circuits that include surface mount technology. He may be an "old timer," but he keeps up with the state of the art. He continues to study as he did in his younger days. Don't look for a spark gap transmitter in his shack, you won't find it.

April 8, 2011