IARU Region 3 Chairman Michael Owen, VK3KI (SK)
IARU Region 3 Chairman Michael Owen, VK3KI, passed away September 22. He was 75. Owen, who was also President of the Wireless Institute of Australia (WIA) -- that country’s IARU Member-Society -- participated in many IARU committees and was a member of the IARU Observer Team at a number of World Radiocommunication Conferences. He is perhaps best remembered for his work on Article 25 -- a package of revisions to the international Radio Regulations that are specific to the Amateur and Amateur-Satellite Services -- at WRC-03.
Amateur Radio societies around the world have benefited from Owen’s enthusiasm and experience; he was passionately involved with the Amateur Radio Service since the 1960s, and served as IARU Vice President from 1989-1999.
“I am very saddened to hear about Michael’s sudden passing,” IARU President Tim Ellam, VE6SH, told the ARRL. “I was only speaking to him a few days ago and he was very enthused about leading the IARU Region 3 Conference in Ho Chi Min city in a few weeks. Michael was a good friend and mentor to many of us in IARU. His drafting skills were second to none, and his ability to clearly articulate his position on a number of issues was of immeasurable help to us. The IARU is indebted to his work at WRCs and at many regional Asia Pacific Telecommunications (APT) meetings.
“I remember working with him at an ITU special committee meeting in 2002. He certainly taught me a great deal about how do advocate at the international level, which helped me greatly when I was elected an IARU officer. Michael was also a brilliant lawyer and well known to many colleagues in the profession around the world. The IARU extends sympathies to his family, IARU Region 3 and WIA. I speak for all of my colleagues when I say he will be very sorely missed.”
In 2004, Owen led the WIA through the progression from a federal structure with state divisions, to an efficient national organization with affiliated local clubs. Through Owen, the WIA became highly regarded by government agencies and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) for its professionalism and efficiency, especially in relation to the WIA examination and call sign management service. He championed and guided the introduction of the Foundation License class in Australia, a move which bolstered the numbers of Australian radio amateurs, while other countries’ numbers were declining.
ARRL Chief Executive Officer David Sumner, K1ZZ, recalled first meeting Owen 36 years ago:“IARU President Noel Eaton, VE3CJ, had called the first-ever meeting of representatives from all three IARU regions to coordinate global preparations for the 1979 World Administrative Radio Conference. WARC-79 is memorable primarily because it’s where the Amateur Radio Service gained the bands at 10, 18 and 24 MHz, among other things. Michael came to that meeting in Florida in April 1976 as a Director of what was then called the IARU Region 3 Association, which had been formed just a few years earlier to bring together the IARU Member-Societies of the Asia-Pacific region. His day job was as an attorney, but he was also an active radio amateur and very involved in the WIA. I got to know Michael much better three years later, because we spent 11 weeks in Geneva together at WARC-79. He had found a place on the Australian delegation and I was part of the IARU team. He was not simply a colleague; he was a friend.
“Among the assignments that Michael drew at WARC-79 was to draft a resolution to exempt the Amateur-Satellite Service from coordination procedures that otherwise would have bogged us down in endless paperwork and great expense. As an attorney it was just the sort of thing he was good at. His work has stood the test of time, and it remains in effect to this day. No good deed goes unpunished, so in 2003, he was brought back to Geneva as a member of the IARU team to handle the rewrite of Article 25, the rules that apply specifically to the Amateur and Amateur-Satellite Services. That turned out to be as much an exercise in diplomacy as in drafting, but Michael was up to the task. I shudder to think what he would have billed a commercial client for the same sort of job but this, as all of his other contributions to Amateur Radio, was service performed as a volunteer.
“Michael did not go into hibernation between 1979 and 2003. From 1989-1999, he served as Vice President of the IARU. Later, as President of the Wireless Institute of Australia, he choreographed the transition of the WIA from a confederation to a truly national body. Today the WIA -- which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010 -- is one of the few other national Amateur Radio organizations in the world that is growing. Simultaneously, Michael served as Chairman of IARU Region 3 since 2006, and at the time of his death was organizing the Region 3 Conference in Ho Chi Minh City that begins less than six weeks from now.
“Michael Owen was a strategic thinker; he saw past short-term pros and cons and could envision how decisions made today would affect the distant future. He also understood that working in the background -- doing one’s homework -- was essential to success. There is simply no way to replace someone with Michael’s experience and wisdom. His death is a searing loss for both the IARU and the WIA, but both organizations are stronger today because of the enormous contributions he made to their well-being.”
WIA Vice President Phil Wait, VK2ASD, has assumed the role of WIA President. Wait has served as a WIA Director since 2003 and was appointed in WIA Vice President in 2010.
Owen is survived by his wife Nan, who accompanied him on many Amateur Radio occasions -- most recently at the WIA National Convention in Mildura -- and two daughters. A funeral service is scheduled for 10:30 AM on Friday, September 28 at St Andrews Anglican Church in Brighton, Victoria. -- Thanks to the Wireless Institute of Australia for some information