J. Kenneth Pulfer, VE3PU (SK)
J. Kenneth Pulfer, VE3PU, of Ottawa, Ontario, passed away Sunday, March 31 after a long illness. He was 80. In 1994, Pulfer became the Secretary, then Secretary Treasurer for the Radio Amateurs of Canada (RAC), that country’s IARU Member Society. He also served as the RAC’s Vice President for Government Affairs and Vice President for International Affairs. When former ARRL Chief Technology Officer Paul Rinaldo, W4RI, retired in 2009, Pulfer took over as Chairman of the ITU Radiocommunication Sector’s Working Party 5A Working Group 1, the “home” of the Amateur and Amateur-Satellite Services in the ITU structure. He served as an IARU Technical Representative for 15 years, culminating with the 2012 World Radiocommunication Conference (WRC-12).
“Ken Pulfer was a consummate gentleman and a tireless worker for the IARU,” IARU President Tim Ellam, VE6SH, told the ARRL. “His efforts as Chairman of the ITU Working Group culminated with our success at WRC-12 in obtaining a secondary allocation at 472-479 kHz. When Ken announced his retirement at the annual dinner of the International Amateur Radio Club during WRC-12, he received accolades from many of those present, including ITU Secretary General Dr Hamadoun Touré, HB9EHT, and from the heads of a number of delegations. He was a well-respected member of the ITU community. We will all miss his keen intellect and support of the Amateur Radio Service.”
ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, recalled two of the many highlights of Pulfer’s volunteer career with the IARU: “The first was his extraordinarily patient and dogged effort to secure protections for the Amateur and Amateur-Satellite Service at WRC-03, where an allocation for spaceborne Synthetic Aperture Radars (SARs) was created at 432-438 MHz. The story is told in Ken’s own words in the September 2003 issue of QST. The constraints placed on SARs include significant protection for amateur satellites -- quite an achievement given that the allocation for amateur satellites at 435-438 MHz is on a non-interference basis. The second was his success in persuading the Canadian administration to give its active support to an amateur MF allocation, which contributed greatly to our achieving the new allocation of 472-479 kHz at WRC-12. Once again, it was Ken’s persistence that carried the day.”
“Ken’s chairmanship capped a long professional and volunteer career in engineering and spectrum management, and was marked by the successful effort to obtain a secondary international MF allocation for the Amateur Radio Service at 472-479 kHz,” said ARRL Chief Technology Officer Brennan Price, N4QX. “Ken spent 15 years in his retirement representing the Radio Amateurs of Canada and the IARU at various meetings in Geneva. His professionalism, insight and positive attitude inspired and improved all who worked with him.”
Licensed since he was a high school student in Manitoba, Pulfer received his first call sign, VE4KP, in 1949. Six years later, after coming to Ottawa to work for the Radio and Electrical Division of the National Research Council of Canada, he became VE3PU. In 1984, Pulfer -- who was at the time the NRC’s Senior Vice President -- received an honorary doctorate from the University of Manitoba, his alma mater, in recognition of his contributions as “a very distinguished engineer and Canadian.” In 2012, the Radio Society of Great Britain awarded Pulfer with its annual Calcutta Key Award -- given for work associated with international friendship through Amateur Radio -- for his work on behalf of the IARU with the ITU.
“Amateur Radio’s strong position in the international telecommunications community has only come about because of the willingness of remarkable people like Ken to contribute their talents and extremely generous portions of their time on our behalf,” Sumner said. “Their effectiveness sometimes requires that they stay out of the limelight, but they should never be forgotten.”
In accordance with Pulfer’s wishes, no services are planned.