Secure Site Login


First ARRL Centurion Award Winner “Fritz” Nitsch, W4NTO, SK


ARRL member and honoree Reynold L. “Fritz” Nitsch, W4NTO, of Spartanburg, South Carolina, died on August 5 following a brief illness. He was 100 years old. Nitsch was the first recipient of the ARRL Centurion Award in recognition of his centenarian status and of his almost half-century of continuous activity in the ARRL Field Organization as an Official Observer, an Official Emergency Station, and an Official Relay Station. Nitsch received the ARRL George Hart Distinguished Service Award in 2012, and was an earlier recipient of the Roanoke Division Service Award (the Vic Clark, W4KFC, Award) for his contributions to the public through Amateur Radio.

A decorated veteran of the European Campaign during World War II, Nitsch served as an engineer at WSPA Radio in Spartanburg for about a decade after the war before going to work for the Federal Aviation Administration, where he remained until retirement.

He was a charter member of the Spartanburg Amateur Radio Club, founded in 1952. Affectionately known as the “Godfather of Hams in Spartanburg County,” Nitsch was known to have tutored and mentored many radio amateurs in the region. Nitsch had taught Morse code while in the Army and was an avid CW operator.

Other awards and recognitions he received over the years include the Clara Barton Award for Meritorious Volunteer Service, recognizing his more than 30 years of service to the local American Red Cross chapter assisting in disaster responses.