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Two Centenarian Radio Amateurs are Honored by Their States


Two distinguished centenarian radio amateurs recently were honored by their respective states. In Alaska, 102-year-old ARRL member Arlene “Buddy” Clay, KL7OT, was inducted into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame for her work in rural justice administration among the Yup’ik people. Responding to a 1944 QST advertisement, Buddy Clay and her late husband Earl, KL7EM, went to work as air traffic controllers for the Civil Aeronautics Board in Nome. After a transfer to Aniak, a tiny Yup’ik settlement, they built a cabin overlooking the Kuskokwim River, eventually left the CAB, and lived off the land for the next 10 years, developing a dog sled team to aid in hunting. Buddy became a ham in 1948 and began calling the Thursday night Snipers Net for the Matanuska Amateur Radio Association, a duty she continues from her retirement community home in Wasilla.

After Earl Clay died in 1956, Buddy went back to work for the CAB and for the US Postal Service. In 1960, though, she started a new career as a magistrate for the Alaska Court System, becoming responsible for 12 villages along the Kuskokwim, Yukon, and Iditarod rivers. She traveled from village to village by boat in the summer and by dog sled in the winter. In all, she spent nearly 70 years living in Alaska’s wilderness.

In Utah, the State House of Representatives honored Greef “Richard” Beckham, W7FVM, on the occasion of his 100th birthday. A Texas native, Beckham is believed to be the last living member of the US Navy team that searched for famed aviator Amelia Earhart after she went missing over the South Pacific. Earhart’s fate remains unknown. As an observer aboard a Navy seaplane, Beckham sent the first CW messages that Earhart was missing. He also shot and owns the only film footage ever taken of the Earhart search operation.

After his Navy tour, Beckham became a science teacher in Oregon. He earned a pilot’s license and became active with the Civil Air Patrol.

Beckham has applied to join a June International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) mission that hopes to solve the Earhart mystery. — Thanks to the Nevada Amateur Radio Newswire; the information about Richard Beckham was originally broadcast by KSL-TV in Salt Lake City.





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