delara news Delaware Amateur Radio Association, Delaware OH   VOL 37 NUMBER 11

DELARA Contest Team

A loss - both personal and to the hobby Paul Bittner, the Contester among Midwestern Contesters, died on Wednesday October 31, 2018 at his superstation near Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Paul had been working on an antenna and the rope/Pulley system failed. Paul apparently fell from around 60 feet and died from those injuries. His wife Mary said that "Paul died doing what he loved.” Many of us in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin have stations that Paul helped build. He put up the first 100 ft of my tower and helped me with antenna work. He was a mentor to hundreds of hams and his enthusiasm for contesting was infectious! Paul was born in Stewartville, MN about 8 miles south of Rochester. He became a ham as a 15 year old and put up a yagi at the parsonage where his father was a pastor soon thereafter. He went to high school in Rochester, MN with Dick Erhorn, who later founded Alpha Amplifiers. Paul made a trip late in life to Virginia to put up a tower for W4ETO as a favor. Paul would only have alpha amplifiers in his station. Paul loved contesting almost as much as he loved his family and his work as a minister. He never tired of contests and was looking forward to the ARRL SS. Paul attended the WRTC 2018 as an observer in July and had plans to return in 2022 to Italy. He will have to observe it from his Heavenly perch now. He is survived by his wife and four daughters. Paul always told us he wanted to be buried with three things most important to him: His Bible, His Hymnal, and his CW key. We are all saddened that his life on earth ended too quickly. 84 years was too short a time for those of us who knew and loved him. Paul best described himself on QRZ: "I have been on the air since 1949, all with the call W0AIH. My main operating activity is multi-multi contesting from my QTH in west-central Wisconsin, known around the Upper Midwest as "The Farm". My wife Mary, WB0PXM, and I moved to our 120 acre farm in the country in 2000. Finally - NO TVI - no neighbor closer than 1/2 mile! Towers & antennas started growing at the Farm in 1982. Almost all the towers are retired from broadcast service and then taken down by me and moved to the Farm. My favorite band is 160M; W1BB got me started when I was living in Ontario, and he found out that I had 160M capability with my Johnson Ranger and Collins 75A4. From 1958-1962 I operated as W0AIH/VE3, and 160M has been "my band" ever since. My favorite contest is CQ WorldWide CW! I am a retired Lutheran Minister having served my first four years in Ontario; then in Virgina, MN; then Grand Island, NE; and finally Fall Creek, WI. I retired on Pentecost 2000.” We can add that the LORD called him home after Pentecost 2018. Pentecost was one of his favorite Christian holidays to preach at because he had such an international ministry and love for how ham radio and contesting reflected what he thought the gospel also reflected - friendship, love and fellowship across international boundaries. Paul was deeply honored to be in the CQ Contest Hall of Fame, to have hosted many US and non-US hams at his station for contests and for his work in the former Soviet Asiatic republics where he also operated ham radio. Paul was especially honored this Summer to officiate at the wedding of two Midwestern contesters: Jerry WB9Z and Val NV9L. He called me after the wedding to say how special it was for he and Mary to be there. Scott Wright, K0MD Our own Larry Mittman, N9AUG, was very familiar with Paul: Paul was one of my elmers when I lived in Wisconsin.  I help him when he was setting up the contest station on the "farm". Contester and former ARRL staffer Dave Patton, NN1N, described Bittner as “such a good man and truly great ham.” W1AW Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, noted that Bittner had volunteered to operate as W1AW/9 as a headquarters station in the 2019 IARU HF Championship to celebrate his decades in ham radio. NCJ Editor Scott Wright, K0MD, said that Bittner helped to build stations for many midwestern hams. “He was a mentor to hundreds of hams, and his enthusiasm for contesting was infectious,” Wright said. Bittner had said he wanted to be buried with a bible, a telegraph key, and a climbing belt. “Thank you for giving so much of yourself to me and the rest of the ham community,” said contester Scott Neader, KA9FOX. “We will never forget you.” Several people used 49 during last weekend’s contest in honor of Paul.  The story going around is that, even at 84 years-old, he still went up and down his towers.  He supposedly had a pulley system at the top of the tower (towers?) that he use to winch himself up instead of climbing.  This week, a friend was winching Paul up when the line holding the pulley broke.  Some backup system, which I failed to understand, did not work and Paul fell to his death. Sad for his family and he was a significant figure in Amateur Radio.  A takeaway from this is that there can be no compromising when climbing towers.  Paul, and his helpers, did not expect this accident to happen and Paul did not survive and other people had to witness the tragedy.  If you are thinking about climbing a tower and do not know how to do so safely, do not do it.  Unfortunately, several other hams have lost their lives in the last couple of years due to an unfortunate tower accident.  - Joe AA8TA; Larry, N9AUG,  ARRL letter; National Contest Journal