ARRL Special Bulletin ARLX014 (2012)

ARLX014 IARU Region 3 Chairman Michael Owen, VK3KI (SK)

QST de W1AW  
Special Bulletin 14  ARLX014
From ARRL Headquarters  
Newington CT  September 26, 2012
To all radio amateurs 

ARLX014 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

"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.