Hurricane Watch Net (HWN) pioneer Donald J. “Don” Kay, K0IND, of Panama City, Florida, died on March 1. He was 89.
“Don was a great friend and Elmer,” said HWN Manager Bobby Graves, KB5HAV. “I cherish the times we talked on the air as well as my visits to his home.” Graves said Kay was a humanitarian who loved Amateur Radio and helping people. All told, he said, Kay served the HWN for more than a half-century.
Licensed in the early 1950s while stationed in the military in Colorado, Kay was one of the original members of the HWN in 1965, serving for 23 years as assistant net manager and 4 years as net manager. Kay also designed the HWN logo, and Graves said many consider him an HWN co-founder. In 2013, he was named manager emeritus and continued serving the net as an advisor.
Kay served in the military from 1946 until 1977. He graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1951 and then attended US Air Force Basic Flight School, graduating in 1952 and later as an all-weather pilot.
He flew 175 combat missions in Vietnam and later flew combat missions elsewhere in Southeast Asia. He retired from the Air Force as Director of Plans for the Air Force Communications Command.
Kay was also involved with the Maritime Mobile Service Network (MMSN), the Medical Amateur Radio Council (MARCO), and Air Force MARS. He assisted with communications during the 1978 Jim Jones Peoples Temple mass suicide in Guyana and with the Grenada Invasion in 1983.
“Don was one of the few people I’ve known who had a very calming, reassuring voice during emergency situations — undoubtedly due to his training and service,” Graves said.
Arrangements are pending.