On The Cover: December  2009


The O’Kains—Bill, K4LTA, and
Ruby, K4UPS

On the Cover

The O’Kains—Bill, K4LTA, and Ruby, K4UPS—have been ham radio fixtures in Oak Ridge, Tennessee for a half century. Bill says he owes both his hobby and his career to a ham in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Bill explained that he had been attending the University of Tennessee on a baseball scholarship in 1954 when a still-unexplained retinal hemorrhage robbed him of his eyesight. Attending a rehab center for the blind in Little Rock, Bill met Dick Freling, a successful insurance agent and W5TIZ. “We became great friends,” said Bill, “and he was a great influence on my life.”

After visiting Dick two or three times, Bill decided that he also wanted to go into the insurance business. He started his own agency back in Oak Ridge in January 1956, and ran it for 40 years before retiring. Toward the end of 1956, Bill got his ham license, and in 1960 Ruby became a ham as well.

On the air, Bill primarily enjoys CW contesting and DXing. His station consists of “pretty much all Ten-Tec gear,” including two Omni-VIs, two Hercules amplifiers, and matching power supplies. He also has an Elecraft K2 for QRP (low power) work and a Kenwood TS-480 mobile rig in his van. The computer is used for logging and for sending code. “I use the keyboard if I’m at all serious about a particular contest,” Bill noted. He says Ruby, who is retired from the computer science division of one of the companies in Oak Ridge, is not currently active on the air, but helps him out as his QSL manager and computer guru.

Bill and Ruby also enjoy traveling and plan to make their ninth trip to Grenada—and 19th to the Caribbean—in February. See more about Bill and Ruby in this month’s “Zero Bias” editorial. (Cover photo by Larry Mulvehill, WB2ZPI)

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