Tribute to John Richard "Doc" Sheller WN8WZT, WA8ZDF, K8RZ, W8MZ, WT8AAA, KN8Z, K8RR
December 26, 1942 - September 12, 2011

Dr. John Richard Sheller, DDS, age 68, of Wetmore, Inwood Township, Michigan, formerly of Canal Winchester, Ohio, went to be with the Lord on Monday, September 12, 2011 at the Munising Memorial Hospital, Munising, Michigan. Born December 26, 1942 in Detroit, Michigan to the late James Richard and Katharine (Schmid) Sheller, also preceded in death by son David Scott Sheller and wife Sharon L. Sheller. He was a 1960 graduate of Wooster High School, attended Fenn College (now Cleveland State Univ.) from 1960-61, Univ. of North Dakota from 1961-63, and graduated from the Ohio State Univ., College of Dentistry in 1968. He enjoyed membership in the TKE fraternity during college. He operated a successful dental practice in Groveport, Ohio from 1968 until his retirement in 1997, and he and his wife moved to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan in 1999. Member of the Columbus Dental Assoc., Ohio Dental Assoc. and American Dental Assoc. He was a volunteer police officer for the Groveport Madison Police Dept. from 1969-82, and was a volunteer for the Madison Township Fire Dept. from 1969-75; he was elected to two-terms with the Madison Township School Bd. from 1977-81, and was President of the School Bd. in 1981. His passion was amateur radio, where his call-sign was K8RR, he enjoyed electronics, building his own radio-stations, studying history and astronomy, riding his snowmobile, auto racing, and politics. Member of the American Radio Relay League (ARRL), Columbus Amateur Radio Assoc., Co-Founder of the Mad River Radio Club, Co-Founder of the Central Ohio DX Radio Club, former Chairman of ARRL, DXCC Advisory Committee, he held the #1 position in the ARRL, DXCC Honor Roll, active in contesting, public (radio) service, founded Design Electronics, founded DOCS High Performance, he raced cars from 1957-64, and competed at the National Championships in Indianapolis in 1964, member of the Schoolcraft Snowmobile Assoc., and was member of the MENSA Society since 1973. He attended Groveport Presbyterian Church, Grace Bible Church in Canal Winchester and currently attended Munising Baptist Church. Survived by loving wife of 24 years, Brenda (Marchington); son, Jack Richard Sheller; grandsons, Nathan, Devin and Caleb Sheller; mother-in-law, Corabelle (Brooks) Marchington; sisters-in-law, Debra Marchington, Teresa Hicks and Tonita Abel Milliser; nieces and many dear friends, and his golden retrievers "Shelley" "Meggie" and "Flag" were his dear companions. Friends may visit Friday from 12Noon-8 p.m. at the DWAYNE R. SPENCE FUNERAL HOME & CREMATORY, 650 W. Waterloo St., Canal Winchester 43110, where funeral service and celebration of life will be 11 a.m. Saturday. The family will receive friends one hour prior to the service on Saturday. Rev. Curtis Emerson officiating. Donations may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project, 4899 Belfort Rd., Jacksonville, Florida 32256 in his memory. Online condolences available at
Published in The Columbus Dispatch on September 15, 2011

Mad River Radio Club charter member Doc, K8RR (WA8ZDF) - SK today. Doc's passion for friendship and radio were amazing
RIP my good friend
Tim K3LR

Doc was a true larger-than-life ham radio legend, and did much to show that contest success from west of the Allegheny mountains COULD be achieved -- it was just a matter of building it bigger and better. He was on DXAC and at one time was at or near the top of the Honor Roll. Although I don't think he ever won, he did have a number of top-5 DX contest multi-op finishes.

Those of us who knew him have many stories about Doc. Two come to mind

Story 1: In the mid-1970s, Doc assembled a crew of notable midwest contesters (e.g. N9RV, NA8V, N8AA, K8NZ, K8HLR, WB8AKW) to operate his large station located near Columbus. Doc cobbled together C-lines and tranceivers from his own collection and from local DXers. But the amplifiers were another story.

Doc was an enormously gifted dentist. Over the years, he developed a friendship with a Florida DXer who was terrified of dentists -- and who wound up flying to Columbus to see Doc for all of his dental work. As a return favor, the DXer loaned Doc several prototype amplifiers from his new company, telling him, "Here, Doc. See if you can blow this one up." Doc never did blow up the amplifiers, and W4ETO went on to a very successful business manufacturing the big amps originally battle-tested at the WA8ZDF multi.

Story 2: Doc was nothing if not "colorful"..... As most of you know, every winter since the 1970s, K8MR has hosted an annual MRRC "Christmas" party at his house. In 1986, the year after I moved to Chesterland, Doc announced that he would arrive at my QTH around 4 pm for a pre-K8MR cocktail party. And, of course, as soon as it became known that Doc was going to be there, others followed. As the afternoon wound into evening, about 20 MRRc guys wound up sitting on the floor of my basement, listening to Doc spin his yarns.

One of the stories I recall was Doc telling about his taunting of cross-town rival, Jim Garland, W8ZR. Doc and Garland both had 130' towers with full-size 5 element 20m beams and were forever competing with each other to be the first to work "new" DX when it popped up.

In the 1970s, speech processing was in its relative infancy. A local Columbus company -- Raytrack (famous for its L4B-clone amplifier) -- began manufacturing a speech processor known as the "Comdel" processor, which purportedly greatly increased an SSB rig's output efficiency. Doc told Garland that he had a prototype processor and wanted to try it out. So the story went (and as I write this I realize written words cannot do justice to Doc's ability to spin a spellbinding yarn). Doc and Jim got on 20m on a quiet night, with the band open only to South America. They wound up working a PY, and after initial pleasantries, the PY agreed to judge the effectiveness of the processor, noting that Doc and Garland both had the same signal strength. Doc dutifully switched the Comdel in and out for testing. Unknown to Garland, Doc was "testing out" a 10 KW amp, purportedly for a guy in West Virginia. The amplifier had huge open-frame relays to switch itself in and out of the circuit. And so Doc told the tale: "OK here goes." (Kerchunk.) "Comdel on....Comdel on.... Comdel on." (Kerclick.) "Comdel off....Comdel off..... Comdel off". (Kerchunk.) "Comdel on." (Kerclick.) "Comdel off. Over." The PY was stunned -- the "Comdel" had added 5 s-units to Doc's signal, and made him MUCH louder than Garland. And, as Doc would tell it, Garland immediately wanted to purchase one of those magical boxes....and Doc kept him wondering about the suspicious nature of the test for weeks until he finally confessed.

Of course, the story is apocryphal, but Doc's ability to tell the tale -- and to keep two dozen contesters both spell-bound and laughing -- is emblematic of the strength of his personality and his charisma.

Doc was a larger-than-life figure. He had vision, enormous enthusiasm, technical expertise, good humor and, of course, his own set of flaws. But ham radio needs icons like Doc, and although his legend will live on, he will be sorely missed.
de K8AZ

Doc was the most colorful ham I've ever known..a man filled with the joy of living.

Always remember him as the guy who introduced me to "big station" contesting by inviting me to be the 40m daytime guy at a ZDF M/M during CQ WW SSB in '75.

He was also the guy who woke A Zed and me up in the middle of the nite at a Dayton (he was standing in the hall in his underwear) to show off part of his gun collection :)

He was also the guy who spent an hour at a Findlay hamfest showing off pictures of his "Predator" amp that was under construction..he beamed with pride as he went thru the pics.

He was also the guy that woke me up early on a Sunday morning to inform me that he was getting back on the air with his new call..KN8Z..we would be callsign "cousins" for more than a few years. The real humor in the conversation was that he had "learned" the code and would be doing a lot of CW.
So many memories..sad to lose such a spirit.
RIP Doc!
Vy 73,
Ron, K8NZ

I am really sorry to hear about Doc. I remember going to a party he had when living near Columbus. That was great fun, food, and hams from several states. There was a contest that weekend. It must have been a QP. I got on the air and made several Q's from his station. Lots of fun! He was always the guy to be with at Dayton for lots of laughter. He was missed and thought about the last several years. I believe his last visit to Dayton was in 1997. He went home early that year. He was ill from eating some bad clams. He never returned. Check out this classic photo:
We will all miss you Doc.
Tom K8CX

Doc, brings to mind potato cannons, operating "bathtub mobile" at Dayton with QSLs! big amps and antennas. Truly, amateur radio was richer for his real passion and fun approach to the hobby.

Doc K8RR of Wetmore, Michigan passed away early September 12th. He died after complications of severe diabetes and kidney failure. "We lost one of radio's most colorful characters". Doc served on the ARRL DX Advisory Committee (DXAC) and was the chairman in 1974 when the CW only DXCC Award was approved. He was a founding and charter member of the Mad River Radio Club. He had 340/367 (current/total) confirmed in the ARRL DXCC Mixed standings.
W8WTS, Jim.

Obituary from the Columbus Dispatch courtesy of K8MR
Comments by K3LR, K8AZ, K8NZ, K8CX, W8CAR, W8WTS