Tribute to Gerald J. Scarano - W1ESD, W4JFM, W3MVB, W3DA, W1ZM
December 22, 1914 - May 2011

 

John, present day W8FJ, at the controls of W3MVB in CQ WW CW 1966. This was a multi single operation of W8FJ and K8MFO and was #1 USA in the category.

W1ZM, in Washington, DC - late 1960s

K8MFO wrote:
You've brought back a lot of memories, Jeff. Both John - W8FJ (then W8CQN) and I had considerable history with Jerry Scarano. In 1966 we teamed up for a Multi Single operation in CQ WW CW and were lucky enough to achieve #1 USA. After that I did a couple of single operator efforts from Jerry's station, as W3MVB and W3DA, an intervening call, before he moved to CT and W1ZM.

Jerry's lived in a Washington DC "row house", on a very small lot. A rooftop tower held a Hy-Gain TH-4 tribander and a 2 element Hy-Gain 40 meter beam. Before that he had a TA-33, but the traps kept on melting when Jerry was on AM PHONE! Somehow a piece of wire was snaked around the property for 80 meters. The antenna system was pretty elementary, but it worked very well. Inside the shack we used a Ranger to drive a pair of 6C21s on 80 and 40, a 32S-3 to drive a Johnson Desk KW, and a DX-100 paired with a 4-1000A amplifier. Receivers were a 75S-3 and 51J/R-390 type Collins military versions.

We have lost a fine and gracious gentleman, who you cannot possibly replace. Jerry and his XYL Ellie were super hosts to a couple of young guys from Michigan. Even though the station was simple by today's standards, we felt like we had entered Ham Radio Nirvana. Jerry was also a competitive shooter, and he said it had affected his "DX ear", but he enjoyed having guest operators at his station. A few things I remember -- once while I was doing a single operator effort, the transformer in the 4-1000 amplifier literally went up in smoke, and I had to evacuate the attic, where the station was located for about 45 minutes. The smoke was so thick you could not see! Also, when it was 5 PM, whether there was DX on the grey line or not, you had to QRX for a "scotch and water" with Jerry and Ellie. They were always full of questions, and ready to build your confidence.

There was a certain element of danger when you switched from 80 to 40 meters -- you had to open the back door of the 6C21 amplifier and throw a couple of switches, taking great care not to touch the power supply. No auto tune amplifiers in those days!

In 1969, before the WPX Contest, I was in a WWII bunker on Mount Adams in Hong Kong, operating as VS6AJ on 20 CW. Bill - K4GSU/3 (N4AR) came through and then called Jerry on the phone -- next thing you knew, W3MVB came crashing through. I don't know who was more excited, Jerry or me!

I believe that Lynn Lamb - W4NL (then W3BWZ) also did some operating from Jerry's station, as did Bob Hill - W1ARR.

Jerry was an enthusiastic ham, and most recently was still hosting operations from his Florida home.

Rest in Peace, Jerry, and THANKS for all of your encouragement and friendship. 73
Don Karvonen K8MFO ....still the same call

K1ZM wrote:
It is with sadness that I report today the passing of Gerard (Jerry) Scarano - W1ZM formerly of Gales Ferry, CT. Jerry was one of the original members
of YCCC having joined at our 1977 formation meeting and contributed MILLIONS of points to the club kitty in the late 1970's and early 1980's.

He had a great station near Groton, CT with 5 towers at its high point - with stacks on 20/15/10 and two 40M yagis - a 3el wire beam for 80 and a vee for 160m. Inside were 5 complete monoband stations for 80 - 15 and the 10m station doubled on 160m during the night time hours.

We ran a number of multi-multis from there in the early days with quite good success. I recall the first one I was at - it was CQWW SSB in 1973 and
we came in 5th after W7RM/W3AU/W2PV and W4BVV - in that order I think it was. I operated 80M and some 10M, we had W1FV on 20M, WA1LNQ and W1ARR on 15 and Paul Budries on 40m as I recall. We only worked a handful on 160M that first time out.

Many other multi's followed and about 7 years of single op/all band efforts which resulted in 2 CQWW SSB single-op all-band USA championships and 3 ARRL DX SSB single-op all band USA championships - the last in 1984.

In those days, SO2R was not yet in its heyday - but changing bands at W1ZM just meant you had to change your operating chair to a new position - neat! Of course there were no computers - all logging and dupe checking was paper-based and you sent ALL your own CW - as memory keyers did not come into vogue until about 1977. You had to be REALLY EFFICIENT to hand write a qso in both the log and dupe sheet and somehow manage to send the exchange and your next CQ - almost at the same time for every QSO. (I think this part of contesting was one of the things that separated the men from the boys in those days.......as it was not easy to do this for 48 hours straignt.)

Many YCCC members got to experience the joy of operating from Jerry's station including these - (I apologize if I am leaving anyone out - as I am getting a bit long in the tooth myself these days):
K1ZZ
K1AR
W1ARR
W1VD (WA1LNQ)
W1FV (WA1CQW)
K1THQ
K1TO
KC1F (K1UA)
K2DM
K3ZM
K9ES
K1VR
AE1C
K0EJ
Paul Budries
K1OME
K1RX
K1XX (W1GQO)
N3OC (Vice Admiral -retired)
N2NT
W2JU
K2ZM
K1EB

I first met Jerry at a Murphy's Marauders club meeting held at Roger Kaul's (W1FLM) house in Glastonbury CT. I recall driving down Roger's street and as I neared his home - the cars lining the driveway were most of the TOP 10 single op finishers in the 1972 ARRL DX CW Test - eg: K1VTM, K1THQ, W1FBY, W1BGD/2, K1ZZ, WB2OEU (K2TR), WA1PID, WA1KID etc - what a talented group of contesters - all in the same club and in the same room!

While there Charlie Carroll (K1XX) was shepherding Jerry W1ZM around and he came over to introduce me to Jerry - and after a short chat they asked me to come up for CQWW SSB the next month - which is how it all started for me. I went, had a great time and never looked back...

A life long friendship on many levels ensued with Jerry from that moment - and we spent many hours together over the years playing golf, going to the local TUCKERBUNG club to eat lobster at the annual clambake (the last was in 2006) - as well as sharing visits with family, when time permitted.

Last August, K0EJ brought Jerry to VY2ZM and it was a great joy for Jerry to see how things had developed here in the Maritimes. He was especially pleased to learn that some of the old W1ZM tower sections from 1978 had found their way into the 80M vertical array here next to the ocean - as well as into the 40M tower with 3/3 on it for 40M. We spent a delightful week here on the island - and Jerry remarked "Jeff - I finally made it up here....." - and it was great that he did. We were talking about a return visit this coming summer - and since now that will never happen, it makes last year's time all the more poignant.....I was grateful to Mark and Judy for bringing him up here - that's for sure.

Jerry's background included degrees in multiple engineering disciplines - electrical, mechanical and structural as I recall and he was also a phenomenal machinist. He could make ANYTHING in his shop behind the shack - including stainless steel U BOLTS and many other parts for our 2el full sized 40M yagi. I remember him making parts for a Ham M rotor one time when we needed emergency repairs just before a contest.

Also, I was simply amazed at whom Jerry knew well - including Rush Drake W7RM (SK) and Admiral Elmo Zumwalt (SK) - the Chief of Naval Operations in the late 1970's. One day when we were doing station work, the phone rang an it was Elmo Zumwalt calling to confirm lunch with Jerry in Washington - the following week.

Jerry was working on fire control designs for weaponry for the Naval fleet at the time and needed to finalize some things with Admiral Zumwalt - amazing! We used to make our beverages from torpedo guidance wire - surplus stuff we picked up at a Naval surveying operation in RI one weekend....and so it was.

I'll close by noting that Jerry was a very fine contester himself - holding down top 5 slots in both CQWW CW and ARRL DX CW as a SOAB contester from a very modest station atop a town house in Washington DC in the mid 50's - finishing right up there with the very best of the era including K1NOL, K1DIR and W1BPW - all of whom were SOAB champions for several years.

As I recall, Jerry also hosted a few other well known calls from his Washington DC station both in DX contests and the ARRL SS including K3EST, W3ZZ (K1ANV), K3ZO, and I think K8MFO and W8CQN. Not totally sure about the
last two.....most of these guys also cut their teeth in contesting at Jerry's place and surely learned from the experience.

I'll miss Jerry and his friendship - and he will always be remembered almost as a second father to both me and to Mark Speck, K0EJ. Much that I learned about big time contesting came from my time spent with Jerry at W1ZM in the early days.
Again, the end of an era....
73 JEFF K1ZM/VY2ZM

W8FJ wrote:
In 1956 Jerry, then W3MVB, started a radio club at our church, St Patricks in Fox Hall Village (Washington DC). My dad heard the announcement about the club and took me to the initial meeting. I was 11 years old at the time. To make a long story short, a radio club was formed and about 20 fathers and sons learned cw, ohms law, amateur regulations, etc and got their Novice Tickets. My call sign was KN3DUB. To the best of my knowledge, I am the only member of that initial club that was really smitten by the ham radio virus, and the only member still active. Gerry was like a second father to me and Ellie was my second mother. As you know, both were truly wonderful people. Gerry's house was at the top of the hill. It was a 3-story, brick row home with mature 100' Elm Trees lining the street (Greenwich Pkwy). On the roof was a 20 foot tower that sported a TA33 and a 2-el 40M HiGain Linear-Loaded Yagi. I was at the bottom of the hill on 44th Street with a bent dipole, a crystal controlled DX-20 transmitter and a Heath AR-3 receiver. Needless to say, I didn't make much noise while Gerry was VERY loud. I remember how enthusiastic he was the morning that I worked Ivor, VK3XB on the 40M Novice band for my first and only DX as a Novice. I think he was at least as thrilled as I was. I have Ivor's hand-made QSL framed on the wall of my shack with it's 449 signal report. After getting my general license and dropping the "N" from my call sign I started getting into contesting and began to help Jerry with cw contesting. That was when he build the "Rock Crusher" 6C21 rack with its flashing 833 mercury vapor rectifiers in the power supply. He had much of that Collins & Johnson equipment back then along with a R390A. I have pictures of myself taken sitting at the operating console when I was 13 or 14 years old. If you're interested, I can probably take a digital photo of those photos and send them to you. I visited he and Ellie in Gales Ferry several times on my way to and from Boston when my oldest daughter was attending Boston College, and my wife and I had dinner with them once when they came to Philadelphia. To complete your "data base" Jerry's call prior to W3MVB was W4JFM (across the Potomac River in Virginia). Prior to that he had a W1 call that I can't recall. He was one of the original incentive licensees as he had his Amateur Extra License when I first met him also a First Class Telegraphers License. Ellie was not his first wife and is not the mother of his two daughters. If we were together, I'm sure we could swap some great stories about him and how he touched our lives. He was my Elmer, and I will miss him.
John, W8FJ (ex K3DUB, W8CQN)

K0EJ wrote:
It is with great sadness that I inform the contesting community of the passing of Gerard J. Scarano (AKA Jerry W1ZM). He passed away this morning in his sleep after a brief illness. He was 96. A contesting powerhouse in the 60's as W3MVB, he was a member and past president of PVRC. He moved back home to CT in the very early 1970's after retiring from federal service (DoD) and started his own engineering consulting firm. He built an incredible station on a hill overlooking the Thames River in Gales Ferry. He was given the call of W1ZM and altho a host of several multi-multi's, the station piloted by Jeff/K1ZM as single-op ruled the contest standings until the mid-1980's. YCCC got more than a few club points courtesy of Jerry. I first met Jerry in 1979 as a navy ensign attending basic submarine school. Jerry was the trustee of the sub-base club, K1SSN, and after speaking to him about joining the club, he invited me to his place. I still remember driving to see him on a Saturday morning. As I drove up, I saw a tower with a 4L 20M yagi (what's the big deal??) but when I pulled into the driveway, I saw the other 4 towers. Wow!! The shack had a big bank of homebrew 4-1000 amps - one affectionately called "The Blue Goose" and a pair of 6C21's (the Rock Crusher) running class-C on 40M. Most of the gear was Collins with a few Kenwoods, Drakes, and EF Johnson. You changed bands by changing seats - quite a sight. We became quite close, and stayed in contact ever since. He was like my adopted father as my dad died when I was in college. Jeff and I did the final removal of the towers a few years ago when Jerry and his bride Ellie decided to live full-time at their winter home in New Port Richey, FL. He remained active on the air almost daily running a KW to a rooftop 20M vertical and a few dipoles. That vertical really worked! Ellie passed away a few years ago after a lingering illness. He travelled a good bit after she died and one of his recent highlights was finally travelling to VY2ZM and giving his stamp of approval to Jeff's modest station on PEI. I would normally schedule my FL visits to coincide with some sort of contest. I remember several phone SS tests, a PVRC reunion-on-the-air, and last years FQP. Always a few folks who had played at his CT QTH would stop to say Hi - he was normally in his chair watching me operate - but he heard you!! Lots more stories could be told - if you have any special memories, please pass them along - his daughters will enjoy hearing them. Arrangements are not final but I will be heading down there in a day or 2. Post them to the reflector or e-mail to me (K0EJ at juno.com) sadly, vy 73, Mark K0EJ

Tributes courtesy of K8MFO, K1ZM, W8FJ, K0EJ
Photos courtesy of K8MFO

 


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