The finest aspect of our hobby are the people who have the distinction of calling themselves Hams.  Of the Hams I have met, the one that has had the greatest impact in my enjoyment of our hobby is W6VLM, Paul Sheffield.  I met Paul at my technician class before I got my ticket.  He was studying for his upgrade to Extra class.  I introduced myself to him and immediately felt like I had known him for years.  Over the next few weeks, he helped me learn about various aspects of our hobby including SSTV, PSK, building wire antennas and of course the dreaded code--which had kept me out of the hobby for years because I just couldn't seem to learn it well enough to pass a test.  Paul took the time to help me learn the code by sending and receiving code on 2 meters with me.  Without his help, I'd probably still be a technician.

Among Paul's many radio interests, was our QRP group at our club.  These pictures show Paul in his field setup with his equipment.  The pictures were taken during the winter on top of La Cumbre Peak during a club QRP outing.  He does look like Santa, doesn't he?  We must have thin skin here in Santa Barbara because the temperature was maybe 50 degrees...burrrrrrrrrr.  He always ribbed me because I was more interested in high power operation than low power.  But his shack sported two amps.  He knew how to enjoy both QRP and QRO.  His setup here shows his operating table, his car and his G5RV (which is a little hard to see).

One of Paul's many interests was high power model rocketry.  Not content to just blast them off, he put an ATV transmitter in the nose cone of his largest rocket.  In the desert of Southern California, near Edwards AFB, is the Lucern Valley Lakebed.  It was there that we took his rocket and his ATV equipment and spent several weekends shooting it off and capturing the live video using a highly directional antenna.  The pictures below show Paul (and me), his rocket and the receiving antenna we had to point in order to capture the live video feed.  It was a great kick and loads of fun.  Paul gave a presentation at our club about high power rocketry and showed the video (which included sound) of the launch.  In one of his first attempts with the rocket, the parachute he used was too "efficient".  The five mile trek across the desert and back was his reward for such fine engineering.  WB9KMO (Rod) and Paul looked like they'd just crossed the Sahara when they finally got back to our little tent on the lakebed.  Laughs all around, what great comedy

Paul was also the President of our local radio club, SBARC, during 2002.  Honestly, I think he never really liked the position.  I think it was something he felt he had to do because the choices in the alternative were mediocre at best.  I think he felt that amateur radio, as a hobby, should be individually motivated.  But he understood that SBARC had a 75 year tradition of pursuing and supporting our hobby and he was proud to be part of that lineage.  He was ALWAYS supportive of anything the club could do to promote the good and honorable traditions of amateur radio:  Education, Public Service and Operations.    That being said, he was also particularly disgusted at the politics that goes on in any organization.  "What does that have to do with amateur radio" I often heard him mutter under his breadth. "If people spent more time focusing on important things, they'd have less time to waste on bullshit."  

How true were his words as I was to find out only a few years later how progress can be stiffled by those who lose sight of what is important, and what is not.

I am enriched by my friendship with Paul.  I will always remember him as a kind, considerate and decent human being.  I will miss him.  In the early morning hours, when the QRM is low, I will always be able to hear his voice in the static, encouraging me to learn and become a better operator and a better person.  

Thank you Paul, W6VLM, SK.

November, 2005

Here's another picture of Paul.. The long shot with Paul, auto and doublet was on the west shoulder of La Cumbre Peak, in Feb. 2003  The others were at Figueroa Mtn Campground in about Nov. 2002.  Both were during unofficial QRP parties.





LB Cebik, whom Paul corresponded with for the antenna story Paul wrote in the May issue of KeyKlix sent the following email:




I am very saddened to learn of Paul's sudden death, but perhaps he would have wanted to pass on among all of his friends in Amateur Radio.  However, I am certain that the event must have come as a shock to all of the members.

Indeed, I would be very pleased to receive a copy of the club newsletter with Paul's article in it.  It would be an honored memento of a Ham who believed as I believe:  to pass on to others every good thing to be learned about our avocation.

Please convey my sincerest condolences to Paul's family.  Amateur Radio has just become poorer by one good man.


LB Cebik, W4RNL,