Former RAC President Earle Smith, VE6NM (SK)
Earle Smith, VE6NM, of Grand Prairie, Alberta -- who served as President of the Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC) from 2004-2007 -- passed away Friday, February 24. He was 81. An active radio amateur since 1948, first licensed as VE1SA, Smith enjoyed meeting amateurs from all over Canada and the world.
“Earle was well respected by Amateur Radio operators both within Canada and internationally,” said current RAC President Geoff Bawden, VE4BAW. “He was a gentleman and friend to all hams and a strong advocate for Amateur Radio and for the Radio Amateurs of Canada. All who knew Earle respected him as a leader, a friend and a force for good in the Amateur Radio community. We will miss him.”
Smith served as Northwest Alberta Director of the Amateur Radio League of Alberta (ARLA), and later as the Assistant Director for Northwest Alberta for the Canadian Radio Relay League (CARL), as well as various executive positions with the Canadian Amateur Radio Federation (CARF). He worked on the merger of the CARF and CRRL to form Radio Amateurs of Canada. Before becoming RAC President, Smith served as RAC Director for Alberta, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut. As RAC President, he served as the RAC Delegate Team Leader to several IARU Region 2 conferences.
Smith was born in rural Nova Scotia; at age 17, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force, serving 21 years. Upon retirement from the military, Smith joined ATCO, an energy company in Alberta. After 24 years with ATCO, he retired once again and began a new career as a truck driver for the petroleum exploration and drilling industry, driving in Alberta, British Columbia and the Northwest Territories. While Smith said he did not consider himself an “Ice Road Trucker,” he did make several trips up the MacKenzie River in the Northwest Territories.
“Earle’s devotion to Amateur Radio and his down-to-earth friendliness earned not only respect, but also affection from those who had the good fortune to know him,” said ARRL President Kay Craigie, N3KN. “Earle’s passing is a loss to Amateur Radio in Canada and to the whole ham radio family.”
Smith was a Life Member of the RAC, the Quarter Century Wireless Association (QCWA, Chapter 151), the Society of Wireless Pioneers (SOWP), and a member of the ARRL and of several amateur clubs across Canada. Smith noted that he was proud to be the sole Canadian recipient of the prestigious Azteca Award from the Federacion Mexicana de Radioamateur Experimentadores (FMRE), for services rendered to Amateur Radio in Canada and Mexico. “It was a privilege for me, while serving as RAC President, to visit every Canadian Province and Territory while meeting many amateurs,” he said on his QCWA bio. “I’ve also attended several QCWA National conventions and enjoy meeting so many enthusiastic amateurs.”
“Earle also held the call VE8BY, and to 6 meter enthusiasts, that call means ‘The Baffin Island Beacon,’ which was located on 50.050 MHz,” explained ARRL Membership and Volunteer Programs Manager Dave Patton, NN1N. “Earle’s love of Northern Canada and 6 meters combined to give the rest of us a unique operating thrill -- hearing a signal from Baffin Island. As well as seeing Earle when he attended ARRL Board meetings on behalf of RAC, I had the pleasure of attending conferences with him in Mexico at FMRE events. Earle instantly earned friendship and rapport with our counterparts in Mexico, and I could tell that he would be liked and respected by anyone he met. Earle was a ‘Ham’s Ham’ and a ‘Man’s Man’ and I will miss him.” According to his QCWA bio, Smith said his favorite band was 6 meters; he sponsored two 6 meter beacons: VE8BY at Iqaluit and VE6ARC near Grande Prairie.
“Earle Smith was one of the most passionate Canadian amateurs you could meet,” IARU President Tim Ellam, VE6SH, told the ARRL. “A loyal supporter of the Amateur Service in Canada and internationally, he was a true friend of the IARU. I had worked with Earle at Radio Amateurs of Canada and valued his calm demeanor and his ability to form a consensus on difficult issues. His leadership within RAC was second to none. He will be missed not only in Canada, but by his many friends around the world.”