Former International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region 3 Director J. F. C. “Fred” Johnson, ZL2AMJ, died on July 23. He was 83. Johnson was a New Zealand delegate to World Administrative Radio Conference 1979 (WARC-79), where Amateur Radio gained access to the so-called “WARC bands” — 30, 17 and 12 meters.
“It was not happenstance that New Zealand was one of Amateur Radio’s strongest supporters before and during the conference,” said ARRL CEO David Sumner, K1ZZ, who once served as IARU Secretary. “Anyone who knew Fred will understand when I say that his work ethic had a great deal to do with it, and with our ultimate success at the conference.”
Johnson also was a delegate to World Radiocommunication Conference 2003 (WRC-03), for which he chaired the drafting group for 7 MHz issues.
Sumner said those attending the 2009 IARU Region 3 Conference in Christchurch, New Zealand had the opportunity to see Johnson in his favorite role — that of teacher. “He showed how to use simple, inexpensive devices to demonstrate basic principles of antennas and polarization,” he recalled.
Johnson was elected as a Director of IARU Region 3 in 1985, serving until 2004 — the last 10 years as Chairman of the Region 3 Board of Directors, and he served on the IARU Administrative Council for a total of 10 years between 1988 and 2003.
Johnson was born into Amateur Radio. His father, Joe, had been a radio amateur, holding 2GA and ZL2GA among other call signs over the years. Fascinated by his dad’s collection of ham radio literature, he read up on radio and built his first crystal receiver at age 10. After World War II, he constructed a tube receiver. When he got his Amateur Radio license in 1950, he added a homebuilt transmitter.
In 2002, Johnson was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. At the 1999 IARU Region 1 Conference in Lillehammer, Norway, he was honored as a Knight of the Order of the Golden Key by the Norwegian Radio Relay League.
“One of the extraordinary dimensions of the IARU is how it brings together people from all over the globe and from almost any walk of life to work for a common purpose,” said Sumner. “Millions of radio amateurs don’t realize they owe a debt of gratitude to Fred Johnson and to other IARU volunteers like him — but they do.”