ARRL Southeastern Division Vice Director Sandy Donahue, W4RU (SK)
The ARRL is sad to report that Southeastern Division Vice Director Sandy Donahue, W4RU, of Dothan, Alabama, passed away on May 4. He was 63. Donahue, an ARRL Life Member, served as Vice Director since January 2002 and as Georgia Section Manager from 1997-2001. In his professional life, Donahue worked at a television station in Atlanta for almost 25 years before retiring.
Licensed for almost 50 years, Donahue received his first call sign -- WA4ABY -- at age 15. Exhibiting a lifelong commitment to public service throughout his amateur career, he always supported the ARRL and the Amateur Radio Service. Donahue was a fixture at every major hamfest in Southeastern Division -- and many across the country -- as well as many of the smaller ones in his area, promoting the ARRL. He spent the weekend of May 2-3 at the BirmingHamfest 2009.
Former Southeastern Division Director and current ARRL Honorary Vice President Frank Butler, W4RH, appointed Donahue as an Assistant Director in 1982. "We spent hours and hours together at the ARRL table at so many hamfests and conventions," Butler recalled. "Sandy became my Vice Director in 2002, and in the next six years, I got to really know him. Over the past 26 years, we must have sold more than $100,000 worth of ARRL books, study guides, operating aids, pins, patches and stickers. Sandy was always promoting the League to hams, encouraging them to become active members of the ARRL. He took great pride in the number of people who joined the ARRL through him."
Butler said that after a hard day's work at the ARRL booth, "all Sandy ever wanted was a good dinner! He loved to eat, and he showed me many fine places to do that, from Atlanta to Birmingham, to Orlando to Miami! I'm glad we got to do that again the last weekend of his life -- at the BirmingHamfest 2009."
Current Southeastern Division Director Greg Sarratt, W4OZK, fondly remembered Donahue: "I was happy to say that I spent this past weekend with Sandy where he spent the last day of his life doing what he loved -- in the ARRL booth, representing the ARRL at the Birmingham, Alabama hamfest, catching up with old friends. Sandy was, as usual, in rare form all weekend, joking and having a good time."
Sarratt said that on Sunday, May 3, "Breakfast began with Sandy surrounded by a group of friends, where he, as usual, did his dead level best to get the best of me with a joke. On this occasion, he managed to succeed, and, in fact, he continued to enjoy this until we parted ways at the conclusion of the hamfest. Sandy could relate to all hams, both old and young. He -- and his sense of humor -- will be sorely missed."
ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, said that even before Donahue sought elective office in the ARRL, "Sandy was a fixture at conventions and hamfests, promoting the League and supporting the association in any way he could. Sandy thought of the ARRL as his family, and he was an important part of it."
Jeff Beals, WA4AW, was a long-time friend of Donahue's. "I've known Sandy for more than 25 years," he told the ARRL. "He was very, very devoted to Amateur Radio, especially the public service side: Emergency Communications, traffic handling and helping out wherever and whenever he could. We had a lot in common." Beals currently serves as an Assistant Section Manager and Affiliated Club Coordinator in the ARRL's Southern Florida Section.
"Sandy had developed an interest in community theatre these past couple of years," Beals said. "He had been involved in a few productions with The Featured Players group in Dothan."
ARRL Technical Relations Manager Brennan Price, N4QX, said that Donahue was one of the three ARRL Volunteer Examiners who administered his first license exam back in 1997: "He was helpful after the exam as well, always eager to share his experience with a variety of Amateur Radio activities with me and other impressionable young hams at the Georgia Tech Amateur Radio Club. While I suspect that his stories were sometimes accompanied by a degree of exaggeration for dramatic effect, I enjoyed them and will miss them."
According to Beals, a graveside service will be held at 4 PM on Saturday, May 9 at Sunset Memorial Park, 1700 Barrington Rd, Midland City, Alabama. An additional service will be held on June 6 at 1 PM in conjunction with the Atlanta Hamfest at Jim Miller Park in Marietta, Georgia. For more information, please contact Beals via e-mail.