W2RP - January 25, 2017

I. Charles 'Charlie' Hellman
Hastings On Hudson, NY

QCWA # 9731
Chapter 181
W2RP - I. Charles 'Charlie' Hellman

Biographical Information on Charles Hellman - W2AMK/W2RP
  • Born May 24, 1910, New York City
  • Received amateur radio license at age 15 in 1925
  • Granted Extra Class and Commercial licenses
  • Two brothers also amateur radio license holders
  • Robert Hellman (deceased), W2JAN
  • Benjamin Hellman, age 96, Current Call W2VB
  • Obtained early radio components by scavenging radio and electronics factory trash heaps in the Bronx
  • F.A.D.A. (Andrea) Factory for crystal radio components
  • Lee De Forest factory for tube discards
  • Batteries from a battery factory
  • Worked his way through City College as a radio repairman
  • Started out as electrical engineering major, changed over to physics due to higher probability of getting a teaching job than engineering job during the height of the depression.
  • Major activity was converting customer radios from DC to AC, since much of New York City was originally wired by the Edison Company with DC and the switch was on to an all-AC city
  • Taught physics at New York City.s Stuyvesant High School and became the first physics teacher at the newly created Bronx High School of Science
  • Two of his students went on to win Nobel Prizes in physics
  • On the occasion of his 100th birthday, several dozen of his former students wrote of their remembrances of his classes, from the early 1940s through the 1980s.
  • Selected by the Department of War to write the textbook used for the training of radio operators during World War II, Elements of Radio (Van Nostrand, 1943). The book went into three editions and was translated into Arabic.
  • On Monday, February 6, 2017 10:43 AM, Gus Hellman wrote:

    GM Charles,
    I just read the sad news of the passing of Charles Hellman, W2RP. We were not related. I knew him since 1947 when he was W2AMK. In the listing of his siblings, his brother Robert was identified as W2JAN. I don't know where that callsign came from because I knew him as W2IIU and he was frequently on the Yorktown 2-Meter Repeater (WB2IXR) It appears that his son Martin Hellman obtained his father's W2IIU callsign after his passing.

    73, Bill (aka Gus).
    QCWA #10540

    W2RP - I. Charles 'Charlie' Hellman
    At the rig - 1949

    W2RP - I. Charles 'Charlie' Hellman
    Rig at Ryer Ave - 1949

    Everything above this point was supplied by Gus - Bob, NØUF QCWA Webmaster

    Oldest, Longest-Licensed US Ham, Educator Charles Hellman, W2RP, SK
    Charles 'Charlie' Hellman, W2RP, of Hastings on Hudson, New York, died on January 25. He was 106 and may have not only been the oldest surviving radio amateur in the US but, at 92 years, also may have been the longest licensed. By 8 days, Hellman outlived Harry Wolf, W6NKT, of Morro Bay, California, who had been considered the oldest US ham when he died on January 17, just a couple of weeks shy of his 108th birthday.

    In 2015, the Quarter Century Wireless Association (QCWA) honored Hellman with a "90 Year Continuous Licensed Certificate Award" (No 1). At the time, the QCWA had thought Hellman was the oldest living radio amateur, but announcement of his QCWA honor served to flush out Wolf, who, while not licensed as long as Hellman, was 1 year older. No formal records are kept regarding the oldest or youngest US hams. Hellman joined QCWA in 1975 and was a member of QCWA Chapter 181 in New York's Hudson Valley. He had been regularly active on the air until a few years before his death, when his backyard tower fell victim to Hurricane Sandy.

    First licensed as W2AMK in 1925 when he was 15, Hellman, who had been an ARRL member, went on to become an educator. After working his way through the City College of New York, he taught physics on the secondary level. During World War II, Hellman was tapped by the Department of War to write a textbook for training radio operators, Elements of Radio. Two of Hellman's siblings also held ham tickets. His brother Robert, now deceased, was W2JAN. His brother Benjamin, 96, is W2VB.

    QCWA came upon the information regarding Hellman's age and Amateur Radio tenure when QCWA Webmaster Bob Roske, NØUF, was updating member files. Roske discovered that Hellman was still living in New York and appeared to be the oldest living QCWA member. - Thanks to Pete Varounis, NL7XM, and Charles Tropp, N2SO

    Quarter Century Wireless Association (QCWA)

    For Immediate Release:August 31, 2015
    For more information contact:Charles Tropp, N2SO

    Hamming, it up for 90 Years!
    Charles "Charlie" Hellman W2RP Licensed since 1925 Presented with Historic 90th Anniversary Award Hastings-on-Hudson, NY (August 31, 2015) Today, the Quarter Century Wireless Association, Inc. (QCWA), an international organization of amateur ('ham') radio operators---presented a 90 Year Continuous Licensed Certificate Award (Serial #1) to Charles 'Charlie' Hellman W2RP. Mr. Hellman is 105 years of age and one of the oldest living amateur radio operators in the United States. Charlie was licensed in 1925 as a 15 year-old, and joined QCWA in 1975 and is also a member of local QCWA Chapter 181 (Hudson Valley).

    Charlie's 85 Year Certificate was also presented!

    On hand to present the certificate, and represent QCWA President Ken Oelke VE6AFO and the membership were: Treasurer Charles Tropp N2SO, Directors Carole Perry WB2MGP and Pete Varounis NL7XM; along with QCWA Chapter 181 Secretary Mike Sturm, KA2E. Also on hand for the ceremony was Don Finkel, WA2OQM (a friend of Charlie's). The certificate reads: "The Quarter Century Wireless Association presents this 90th Anniversary Award to its Distinguished Member Charles 'Charlie' Hellman, W2RP to commemorate Ninety Years of Service as a licensed Radio Amateur".

    Don, WA2OQM; Charles, N2SO; Pete, NL7XM, Charlie, W2RP(seated) and Carole, WB2MGP
    Mike, KA2E was the photographer for the event, his bio w/picture is at KA2E

    In addition to the certificate, Charlie was also presented with a letter from QCWA president Ken Oelke VE6AFO which reads in part "I would also like to say how proud I am that you have kept active for these many years, and to proudly celebrate what many will not be able to achieve in their entire lifetime. Congratulations to you on 90 years as a licensed radio amateur, and may you enjoy many more in amateur radio!"

    The information pertaining to Charlie was discovered when the QCWA webmaster, Bob Roske NØUF, was updating member files and discovered that Charlie was still living in New York and was certainly the oldest living member of QCWA. In recognition of his achievement the QCWA Board of Directors quickly voted to award Charlie the 90 year certificate, a first for the organization.


    W2RP - I. Charles 'Charlie' Hellman

    About QCWA
    The Quarter Century Wireless Association (QCWA) is a non-commercial international association of radio amateurs organized for the promotion of interest in Amateur Radio communication and experimentation for the establishment and advancement of the radio art and public welfare, QCWA was founded December 5, 1947. In order to qualify for membership one must have demonstrated proof of having been first licensed as an Amateur Radio operator at least 25 years prior to application for membership and must be currently licensed.

    Just got in the door.

    What a rush!

    RELEASE THE BULLETIN whenever you're ready.

    It's all official. Radio and News outlets being notified now.

    Congratulations to all!

    -Pete / NL7XM

    What an incredible experience!

    I've posted the pictures and videos on a private URL which I've sent to N2SO. As soon as he gets approval, he'll pass the URL on to everybody. All the pics were very flattering, W2RP is a great subject!

    About 18 months ago, I came across Charlie Hellman's name on the Chap 181 roster and called Gus Levy, W2LAP (now SK) - "Hey Gus, we have somebody here who was born in 1910 - guess I should take his name off the roster." Gus told me, "No - he's very much alive!" W2RP sure is!

    Best Regards,
    Mike Sturm KA2E

    Hi Ken,

    We had a nice visit with Charlie this morning. Directors Pete NL7XM and Carole WB2MPG were present as was Mike Strum KA2E, Secretary of Chapter 181 who took pictures and video. We also brought along Don Finkel WA2OQM. Although Don is not a member, he used to have a daily net with Charlie for over 40 years and brought a picture of themselves and their wives in Florida taken 40 years ago. Charlie recognized him and the photo. Charlie was very alert and most appreciative of the honor. I read him your very nice letter and presented both certificates. At the end we had Pete in his car call him on 146.52 simplex and we gave Charlie a HT to make the QSO. So as of today, he is the oldest known Ham Operator still active on the air! He gave Pete a signal report and he sounded like a seasoned ham who knew all the procedures. When I got home, I called his son Walter Hellman who told me that his Dad had already called him and told him what a nice time he had with us. All in all a great day for Charlie and for the QCWA.

    47 & 73, Charles R. Tropp N2SO
    Treasurer, Quarter Century Wireless Association, Inc.

    Download the video for W2RP's On The Air Contact (94.6 Meg)
    Listen to the audio of W2RP's May 4, 2009 QSO (11.9 Meg)
    with Des G4OBB on the RC Net. Provided by G4OBB


    This was an "inspiring" experience. I am still jumping up and down from the excitement. I am so honored to have been part of this "historical" moment. Thanks to all for making this happen. I am especially happy to report that Charles W2RP seemed genuinely happy to have visited with us. This was WONDERFUL!!

    47 and 73,
    Carole Perry WB2MGP

    Hi All,

    That is the news I've been holding my breath all morning to hear. Such good news! Congratulations (again) to all who influenced the course of the events surrounding this historic occasion. I'm proud to be associated with QCWA, not only for the achievement, but for the singular manner in which everyone involved adopted a positive attitude and contributed to the final action with full cooperation and good spirit. That sort of thing doesn't happen everywhere.

    Now I'm waiting to see what kind of impact we made with this historic presentation. To get Charlie, W2RP on the air was the icing on the cake. What a trooper. Again, congratulations to all, and thank you for including me in the ongoing and late-breaking action.

    Vic, W4VIC


    I've had this warm glow all afternoon and I wasn't even there!

    What a pleasure to have started this ball rolling!

    Again WOW!!!!!!!

    47 es 73,
    Bob, NØUF
    QCWA Webmaster

    Dear Association Members,

    On behalf of the family, we'd like to thank you for the amazing event that you created out of the blue that brought such joy to us and my father. He called us almost as soon as the team left and said what a great time he had. I spoke with him yesterday and he was still enjoying it. Of course we wished we could have been there, but the pictures and video made it seem like we were. I can tell you, seeing Dad getting the mike in his hand once again and returning to the fold, doing all things we know so well, was just amazing. I suddenly saw him as a young man again no matter what his appearance today. You brought the good life back to him he knew so well.

    From reading the follow-up comments here it's very apparent that a load of work needed to be done very quickly to organize this, especially so quickly, never mind just getting everyone together at the same time. The certificates are especially beautiful. It's clear it was all done from the heart and Charlie and the family can't thank enough everyone who made this happen. This includes the Association members who support the Association even if you weren't there!

    Charlie is an amazing man and we look forward to him being able to celebrate again. But no matter what happens, we're so glad this event occurred as it did and you are entirely responsible for our good fortune. Thank you!

    Walt Hellman

    Download the videos for W2RP's Award Presentation:   #1 (186.5 Meg)     #2 (322.9 Meg)     #3 (15.1 Meg)     #4 (133.5 Meg)

    W2RP - I. Charles 'Charlie' Hellman
    QSL courtesy of the NL7XM Collection

    On Sunday, March 5, 2017 4:50 PM, "BILLB300@aol.com" wrote:

    My name is WIlliam Bohnenberger (KA2OFM). I am currently President of the Westchester Emergency Communications Association (WECA), QCWA member and a Ham for over 45 years.

    I recently attended a local estate sale and was made aware it was the estate of Charles Hellman. Charles was the longest continuously licensed amateur radio operator in the United States, and died at the age of 106 in January. Charles helped found the Bronx High School of Science and taught two Noble Prize winners.(WOW) In going through the basement I came across several vintage certificates, licenses and awards.

    I sensed that these documents would be of interest to the either the ARRL or QCWA to preserve the history of amateur radio and this Ham of over 90 years. I asked the family if I could take the certificates, licenses and awards and give them to either the ARRL or QCWA as a tribute to his many years in the hobby.

    I have scanned the documents and have the originals in my possession. I am planning on going to Dayton and can bring them with me.

    Please let me know if there is interest.

    William Bohnenberger
    QCWA # 37082

    W2RP - I. Charles 'Charlie' Hellman

    W2RP - I. Charles 'Charlie' Hellman

    W2RP - I. Charles 'Charlie' Hellman

    W2RP - I. Charles 'Charlie' Hellman

    W2RP - I. Charles 'Charlie' Hellman

    W2RP - I. Charles 'Charlie' Hellman

    QCWA will acquire these historical documents at Dayton and preserve them.