W6AM - May 25, 1985|
Donald C. 'Don' Wallace
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
QCWA # 631
First Call: 6OC in 1913|
Other Call(s): 6LN, 9BU, 9DR, 9TT, 9ZT, 9XAX, U9DR, U9TT, U9ZT, nu9DR, nu9TT, nu9ZT, nu9XAX, nu6AM, nu6MA, W6AM, W6MA, W6ZZA, nu7MB & W7MB
Radio Pioneer Don C. Wallace, 86, Dies
Don C. Wallace, a pioneer in radio communications and dean of the country´s long-distance amateur radio operators, died Saturday in Long Beach after suffering a stroke. He was 86.
From his "antenna ranch" atop a ridge on the Palos Verdes Peninsula, Wallace had been in touch with more people in more countries than any other ham operator in the world since 1955, colleagues said Sunday.
"He was the No. 1 man, No. 1 in the world," said Lloyd Colvin of Richmond, Calif., a director of YASME, a worldwide ham organization. "We have nearly two million people in the world who have amateur radio as a hobby, and I´d say a very high percentage either knew of Don or had talked with him over the years."
A licensed radio operator by 1912, Wallace was chief radio operator for President Woodrow Wilson at the Versailles peace conference after World War I. In 1923, he received a silver cup from then-Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover for operating "the best all-around radio station" in the country.
Over the years, Wallace, a Long Beach resident since 1906, became famous for his designs and experimentation in amateur radio stations, Colvin said. In 1945 he bought the old Press Wireless communications facility at Palos Verdes.
From there, he became perennial champion "collector of countries"--reaching 365 places classified as nations by the American Radio Relay League by 1980. His overseas contacts and those of others competing for top honors were verified by the League.
"It's like being a world champion golfer for 25 years or the world's top runner for that long," he said in a 1980 interview. The antennas, whose designs he was constantly improving, were the key to his success, he said.
His 24-acre ranch is dotted with poles, 75 to 140 feet high and strung with 1,000-foot-long lateral antennas. Despite his age, Wallace climbed the towers to do maintenance until about five years ago, said his son, William Wallace of Long Beach. Also surviving are a son, Don C. Jr. of Long Beach and a daughter, Betty Jean Green of Alexander Valley, Calif.
"His forte was maintaining the best amateur radio station possible," said William Wallace. "The building here is 100 feet long and it's just full of equipment. And he has a full setup in his car. He could talk around the world from his car."
Wallace spent Friday morning at his radio, his son said, and was stricken that afternoon at his regular card game at the Virginia Country Club.
On a typical day, Wallace, who is better known internationally by his W6AM call sign, would contact such far-flung locations as Antarctica, Saudi Arabia and the Soviet Union. But he would never talk politics or religion, he once said. "Amateur radio operators have a code of ethics," he explained.
(Source: Los Angeles Times, May 27, 1985)
Jan, N6AW, reports Don was first licensed in 1913 as 6OC, and he first appears in Radio Stations of the US, supplement 3 to the first edition, spring 1914. (1st ed. published in 1913). He received 6AM in 1926, W6AM in 1928.
(Source: N6AW via AC6V.com/history)
Transcription of a brief autobiography, typed by Donald C. Wallace when he was 19 years old:
January 29, 1918.
Donald Clare Wallace was born at Belview, Redwood County, Minnesota, July 10, 1898 and was graduated from Long Beach Poly High in 1916. The fall of that year he entered the Alma Mater of his father, William H. Wallace, Hamline University, St. Paul, Minn. and throughout the season played center in a victorious foot ball team, not missing a minute of any game.
In the spring in St. Paul, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy but was not called from his studies, the call coming the day after commencement. He went immediately to Goat Island, San Francisco, where he was put to work as wireless operator, where he has been ever since, being promoted step by step until on January 5TH, 1918, at the age of 19 years, he was made first class petty officer [being discharged as chief petty officer the following year].
By his own study and practice wile in the high school here he became an expert electrician and radio operator, constructing his own plant at his home and helping to pay his school expenses by manufacturing apparatus for other amateur operators, winding armatures, coils, etc. As an expert electrician he has been called from his work at Goat Island at different times for special work, having at one time spent two weeks on a Government light tender out in the ocean reconstructing the wireless plant and having spent several weeks at Marshall, Marin County, which is at the terminus of the oriental cable.
Luxury Homes Proposed for Famed Radio Site : W6AM Is Over, May Soon Be Out
RANCHO PALOS VERDES . The past and the future are bumping heads on 24 open hilltop acres long famous for radios and farming.
When it was the Wallace Ranch, the property on Highridge Road was a window on the world for Don C. Wallace, who spent 40 years talking to hundreds of thousands of amateur radio buffs worldwide from W6AM, his ham radio station. The land is still farmed, the most recent crop being hay.
Now, just a year after Wallace´s death at 86, a partnership headed by developer Ronald Florance, who is also a Palos Verdes Estates city councilman, has purchased the property for an undisclosed price. The group plans to build 83 homes in what Florance´s architect has described as an elegant style reminiscent of the Italian coastal resorts of Portofino and Amalfi.
Radio and history buffs, however, want a corner of the property set aside as a historic site preserving Wallace´s ranch house and radio equipment, and this has put them at odds with Florance, who says that the run-down building and Italianate luxury homes would not mix.
After a public hearing last week, the Planning Commission directed its staff to conduct an environmental study focused solely on whether the ranch warrants designation and preservation as a historic site. That study could take several weeks, according to the planning staff. Earlier, the staff concluded that Florance´s development would have no significant environmental impact warranting formal study.
The commission is considering the tract map for the project, and the city has directed that nothing on the property be demolished until the historical issue has been resolved.
Florance, who plans to call his development Wallace Ranch and commemorate its radio era with a plaque at the entrance, has offered to move the ranch house to other locations, such as the city´s Point Vicente Interpretive Center museum or the Civic Center.
But radio advocates say the historic value of the Wallace Ranch lies in the ham station as Wallace created it, and in the site itself. Wallace personally selected it as the best location for radio transmission on the West Coast when he was scouting sites in the 1920s for Press Wireless, an overseas radio communications company. Wallace bought the property, as well as additional land that he later sold, in 1945. When he died, his son, William Wallace, said, "There are 2 million ham operators in the world and dad knew a million of them."
World Famous Station
Jay Holiday, vice president of the American Radio Relay League, told the commission that W6AM "was one of the most famous radio stations in the world."
Calling the ranch a "major World War II communications link," Ken Dyda of the Rancho de los Palos Verdes Historical Society said the property is of "major historical significance for the United States." Dyda and others said a small piece of land should be set aside on an outer corner of the development for the building and radio equipment.
Sarah Grimes, whose husband, Elmer, has been farming the land for 13 years, said vintage farm equipment, and perhaps a small simulated field, also should be preserved so school children can understand the Peninsula´s agricultural heritage.
"Four generations of a family of farmers have worked that land," she said.
Florance, however, took another view of what is left of Wallace´s legacy. He said the ranch house, with its long veranda, was put together with "spit and glue" and is dilapidated.
He said that the building and radio equipment belong to the Wallace family, not his partnership. Some of the equipment has been donated--to the Queen Mary and California State University Northridge, among others--and the rest is in storage and will be donated, Florance said. He said the family also plans to remove the forest of wooden antenna poles, some as high as 140 feet, which have been landmarks for decades.
In an interview, Florance said people in the neighborhood have called him and said they hope the antenna poles and the commercial radio towers still in use will be removed. "The station interferes with telephones and television," he said.
Florance said he is willing to build a park or pay park fees to the city, as required by state law for new developments. But he does not want to preserve the Wallace radio station on his property, nor is that a desire of the Wallace family, he said.
He said the building already has been broken into twice and hay has been burned in the field.
Other speakers at the hearing were critical of the proposed development, citing increased traffic and objecting to an outer wall, which they said will isolate the homes from the neighborhood.
As they listened to the requests for preservation of the Wallace Ranch, some commissioners appeared to be skeptical about who would pay for this slice of history.
Commissioner Joan Ortolano asked speakers how much their organizations were willing to contribute to maintaining an historic site.
Holiday said his amateur radio group could "provide a few thousand dollars."
(Source: Los Angeles Times, June 1, 1986)
Photo #1: www.k0bg.com