[UPDATED 2015-09-02 – 2050 UTC] The Quarter Century Wireless Association (QCWA) has honored 105-year-old Charlie Hellman, W2RP, of Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, for his 90 years in Amateur Radio. The QCWA’s announcement also served to flush out another active ham who, while 1 year older than Hellman, has not been licensed quite as long. On August 31 the QCWA presented a “90 Year Continuous Licensed Certificate Award” (No 1) to Hellman, whom the organization at the time called “the oldest living Amateur Radio operator in the United States and possibly the world.” Hellman got his ham ticket in 1925, when he was 15 years old. He joined QCWA in 1975 and is a member of QCWA Chapter 181 in New York’s Hudson Valley. He gets on the air regularly.
After QCWA posted its announcement on the QRZ.com news forum, however, Marcel Stieber, AI6MS, chimed in to point out that Hellman is not the oldest known ham. He said that Harry Wolf, W6NKT, of Morro Bay, California, is 106, although licensed but since 1936.
QCWA Webmaster Bob Roske, N0UF, stepped forward to renew Wolf’s lapsed QCWA membership and noted that since Wolf had been licensed for more than 75 years, QCWA would issue him a life membership. And now it might also recognize his longevity as well.
First licensed as W2AMK, Hellman was 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.
Also an educator, Wolf indicated on his QRZ.com profile that he once taught electronics at the college level and, after retiring in 1973, went to live in Hong Kong where he operated as VS6GF for 4 years before returning to California. He said he’s on the air every day, mostly on 40 meter CW.
Hellman’s 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.”
Hellman also received a congratulatory letter from QCWA President Ken Oelke, VE6AFO. “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,” Oelke said, in part. “Congratulations to you on 90 years as a licensed radio amateur, and may you enjoy many more in Amateur Radio!”
QCWA came upon the information pertaining to Hellman when Roske was updating member files and discovered that Charlie was still living in New York and appeared to be the oldest living QCWA member. In recognition, the QCWA Board of Directors promptly voted to award Hellman the 90 year certificate, a first for the organization. Now it may have the opportunity for a second. — Thanks to QCWA, Pete Varounis, NL7XM, and Charles Tropp, N2SO