W4AI - February 11, 2008|
John R. Beck|
QCWA # 11121
W4AI, John R. Beck, passed away in a Sebring, FL nursing home on February 11, 2008. He was 89.
John was originally licensed as W6MHB in San Francisco. In 1955 he went on his first DXpedition to Cocos Island as TI9MHB. The following year he joined RCA on the Air Force Eastern Test Range, where he worked as a Resident Engineer on many of the tracking stations. During this assignment he held the calls VP7BT on Eleuthera Island, VQ9J in the Seychelles, ZD8J on Ascension, and VP2A and VP2AAA on Antigua.
After he left the Range he worked with RCA Alaskom in Alaska where he held the call KL7AI. He retired from RCA in Alaska and returned to FL where he was licensed as K4LJV, then W4AI. He also spent a year in Brazil as PY1ZFO.
John was an avid DXer and contester, and had worked all but two countries. He is best remembered in the contesting world for his two # 1 World placements in CQWW DX CW Contests in 1966 and 1967 as ZD8J . He also had some outstanding scores in many ARRL DX CW contests from his DX locations.
He was most proud of a number of letters he had received from contest sponsors over the years attesting to the quality of his logs. John logged all his contests in pencil, then retyped them on a typewriter for submission.
John moved to Sebring in 1992 with plans to build a contest station with three 140 ft towers, stacked yagis on the HF bands and substantial antennas on the low bands. Unfortunately his health failed before he was able to complete this project. He entered a nursing home in October 2004.
Today many FCGers [Florida Contest Group] are using equipment from John's station building project. John is gone but his equipment continues to be used, not only in Florida, but at DX locations ranging from Hawaii to Scotland.
Fred Perkins, K4LQ
40 years ago when I was a newly minted General class still too young to drive, I worked ZD8J, which seemed like serious DX at the time. All I had was a 14AVQ trap vertical and a Ranger with a 6146 running 65 watts DC input (probably about 40 watts out). I was thrilled to get a QSL from him. I can still remember the orange card with the call ZD8J in big letters. I felt like I had arrived.
Richard Karlquist, N6RK
Photo #1: K4LQ