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Former ARRL Contest Branch Member K1WJ SK

from ARRL
Website: on August 31, 2001
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Former ARRL Staff Member Bill Jennings, K1WJ, SK

Bill Jennings, K1WJ

Bill Jennings, K1WJ, at Field Day in 1974. [Rick Casey, W6RKC, Photo]

NEWINGTON, CT, Aug 28, 2001--Former ARRL Headquarters staff member Ernest W. "Bill" Jennings, K1WJ, of Franklin, Connecticut, died August 26. He was 54. An amateur beekeeper, Jennings reportedly succumbed after being attacked and repeatedly stung by a swarm of his own bees.

Jennings came to ARRL Headquarters in 1976 as a communications assistant--shortly after getting his Extra ticket--and went to work in the Contest Branch. He was assistant communications manager when he left in 1984. "He was one of the kindest and funniest people I have ever met," said QST Publisher Mark Wilson, K1RO, who worked with Jennings in the early 1980s.

Others who knew Jennings from his days at ARRL Headquarters commented on his irrepressible sense of humor. ARRL Field and Educational Services Manager Rosalie White, K1STO, recalled Jennings as "a super guy" who always tried to keep his fellow staff members in high spirits and smiling. Staff member Ruth Doucette remembered Jennings as a bit of a practical joker. "He liked to have a good time and was never caught short for a quip or a fast comeback," she said. Steve Ewald, WV1Z, called Jennings "a natural comedian."

During his ARRL days, friends and colleagues recalled, a rubber chicken became Jennings' trademark gag. Those who knew him said Jennings frequently would wave the toy out his car window to acknowledge acquaintances he'd pass on the highway.

Born in New Haven and raised in North Haven, Jennings was a lifelong Connecticut resident. He was first licensed as WN1AHI in 1963 and was an ARRL Life Member. He graduated from Northeastern University in 1972 with a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. Jennings was a DXCC Honor Roll member with 340 total entities. He also was an A1 Operator Club member.

Jennings authored the chapter "Basic Operating" that appeared in several editions of The ARRL Operating Manual. He also wrote many of the contest writeups that appeared in QST during his ARRL Headquarters tenure. Most recently, Jennings had been working as a network administrator in the Norwich, Connecticut, area.

Long-time friend Rick Casey, W6RKC (ex-AB1U), said he'd known Jennings for nearly his entire life. "He was my friend for over 51 years, and I shall miss him terribly," he said. Casey said he and Jennings never shared an angry word, "but we sure did laugh a lot."

According to The Hartford Courant, Jennings was working with one of the three bee hives he kept on his property when he was attacked. The account indicates that Jennings was wearing protective gear and was armed with a "smoker" to calm the insects, which apparently got underneath his clothing and headgear. State officials are trying to figure out why the bees were so ferociously aggressive--a trait not known in typical honeybees kept in New England.

Survivors include Jennings' wife, Carol Smith, AJ2I, whom he'd met while both were on the ARRL staff, and a sister, Karen.

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