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ARRL Special Bulletin ARLX004 (1997)

ARLX004 YLRL founder Ethel Smith, K4LMB, SK

Special Bulletin 4  ARLX004
From ARRL Headquarters
Newington CT  February 6, 1997
To all radio amateurs

ARLX004 YLRL founder Ethel Smith, K4LMB, SK

Ethel Smith, K4LMB, of McLean, Virginia--who inspired and helped
found the Young Ladies Radio League (YLRL)--died February 5.  She
was 79.  In accordance with her wishes, no services are scheduled.

A ham for more than 60 years, Smith--a Wenatchee, Washington,
native--discovered ''wireless'' as a youngster and became licensed as
W7FWB in 1936.  A story in QST for May 1940 outlines how Smith's
letter to QST encouraged other female hams to form their own
organization, which became the YLRL in October 1939 (with Ethel
Smith as its first president).  Her stints with the Army and Navy
during World War II led to an offer from the Naval Research
Laboratory in Washington, DC, in 1945 (she joined the Naval Reserve
in 1950 and remained an active reservist for 10 years).

Smith also participated in the formation of the Foundation for
Amateur Radio (FAR) in 1957.  Around that same time, she met and
married the late John ''Tex'' De Bardeleben, W4TE (ex-W3CN), who was
with the FCC.  The couple set up housekeeping in Virginia, and she
later served as the Virginia SEC (1966-69) and as an ARRL Assistant
Director under four different Roanoke Division directors.  Last
August, six months after her 79th birthday, she celebrated her six
decades in Amateur Radio by passing the Extra Class examination.

In addition to being a member of ARRL, Ethel Smith was a member of
QCWA, served as its executive secretary/general manager in 1974-75,
and was elected to the QCWA board of directors.  Her other
recognitions include: Ham of the Year, Washington, DC, Mobile Radio
Club (1965), ARRL Roanoke Division Service Award (1972), Dayton
Hamvention Special Achievement Award (1984), QCWA Roll of Honor
(1987), Radio Club of America Fellow (1988), and Foundation for
Amateur Radio Ham of the Year (1993).

In an article in last fall's QCWA Journal celebrating Smith's 60
years in the hobby, she was quoted as saying: ''Amateur Radio is
still the main focus of my life.  It has brought me all the good
things that ever happened to me.  It gave me a challenging and
rewarding career.  It gave me a wonderful husband and the greatest
collection of friends in the world--all over the world.  I owe more
to Amateur Radio than I can ever possibly repay.''  The quarterly
featured a front-cover picture of Smith in her W7FWB shack.

ARRL Executive Vice President David Sumner, K1ZZ, expressed sorrow
at Smith's passing, calling her ''a leading light in the ham
community.''  Sumner said that Ethel Smith ''never stopped
contributing, learning, and growing.  I don't think it ever would
have occurred to her that she should.''


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