Tribute to Robert V. Edwards
December 15, 1940 - December 8, 2008
It is with enormous sadness that I must report the passing of one of the lions of our contesting world, Bob "Val" Edwards, W8KIC. As many of you know, Val was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in April. Three weeks ago his chief oncologist decided that because Val had lost so much weight and was quite weak additional chemotherapy would do more harm than good. At that point, in-home hospice care was implemented. Val died peacefully Monday evening, at home, in his own bed, with his beloved wife Anne at his side. He is survived by Anne, his two sons and five step-children.
I last saw Val the Friday after Thanksgiving, just before CQWW CW. He was physically weak but was ambulatory and his brain was fully operational. He was engaged in the conversation and if he had not told me he was doped up on methadone, I never would have known. (I might have suspected he'd had a martini or two but nothing more.) We had a pleasant chat then (and the weekend before) and both times the ever-present Edwards wit produced smiles and pleasant thoughts. Val had an unusually distinguished career as Professor of Chemical Engineering at Case Western Reserve University, where he served as department chair for many years. He also held various administrative posts, including associate dean and special assistant to the CWRU president. The Robert V. Edwards Student Reading Room was dedicated last month in recognition of his commitment to his students. He was the author of "Processing Random Data: Statistics for Engineers and Scientists" (World Scientific 2006), a book he somehow managed to write despite the enormous time commitments required by his faculty/administrative duties and his combined passions for ham radio and sailing.
In the radio world, Val was a well-known contester. He was one of the founding members of the Mad River Radio Club, and later became a founding member of the North Coast Contesters. For many years, he participated in multi-op efforts from the N4AR station in Kentucky. (Val and Bill were students together at Johns Hopkins.) Later, he became a stalwart at K8NZ and, beginning in 1986, at K8AZ. Except when he was out of the country on sabbatical, Val participated at every serious multi-op effort at K8AZ from 1986 through the 2008 ARRL CW contest.
If you sat down at a radio after Val got up, you always had to remember to turn the AGC back on (and, in the old pre-computer days, to flip the switch on the key paddle to allow for right-hand sending, since Val taught himself to send left-handed so he could log with his right hand and send [and hold a cigarette] with his left.) No one on the AZ Crew was better at managing a pileup, digging out a mult or carving out a run frequency.
I first met Val in 1966. Val was a post-doc at CWRU and lived with his wife and kids in a Cleveland Heights duplex (with a TH3 and a Cliff-Dweller on the roof.) I was a young ham in high school living nearby. Over the years we became good friends, a friendship which grew closer 10 years ago when Val moved to Chesterland to build his dream house -- and dream antenna farm.
Val had the heart of a lion, the soul of a jazz musician and the brains of a scientist. But beyond that he had a mountain of the right stuff. He was a mentor to hundreds of students and sought out the under-achievers and helped them reach their potential. He extended that teacher-philosophy to the younger ops at K8AZ. With Val, nothing was impossible -- it just needed thought and effort.
No matter what the subject -- radio, politics, anything -- Val could always see, and help others to notice, the humor in things. I think his quick wit and easy chuckle are the things I will miss the most.
When a legend passes away, he
leaves a hole that is never quite filled by the rest of us. The
hole Val leaves -- in our hearts and in our lives -- is bigger
than most. Rest in peace old friend.
It is truly a sad day to get this
news. Val was a pillar for NCC since its beginning and for MRRC
prior. The contesting community has lost a great one and we are
lesser for it. We should all be so very fortunate to have
touched, in such a positive way, so many peoples lives.
Am deeply saddened to hear of
Val's passing. Was very fortunate to be able to visit with him
just before CQWW CW. The sense of humor and sharp mind was still
there. Val was truly one of a kind. He will be missed by all of
us ..contesting lost one of it's best.
The following are photos taken by Greg Ordy at the dedication of the Reading Room for at CWRU:
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