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Shel Epstein K9APE (SK)

Shel K9APE passed away on November 9.

Shel was a long standing member of the Club and served on our Board as Vice President for 4 years.  He always had the best interests of the Club in his heart.

Below is the Eulogy I delivered at his service:


I’m Rob Orr, member of the North Shore Amateur Radio Club, which is how I got to know Shel.

I currently serve as the Club’s President and I am often asked if people still use ham radio today and my answer is resoundingly yes, and Shel is a great example of why it is still around.  Amateur radio is a hobby that has been in existence for as long as radio itself.  People are attracted to the hobby for a number of reasons: social engagement, educational development, experimentation, public service – it can be serious fun!  As it goes, Shel, was among my very first ham radio contacts. His call sign: K9APE…who could forget that call? It is still in my log book.  He was wonderfully supportive to me as a newbie and immediately embraced me as a fellow “ham.”  Over the years, you could count on hearing Shel almost every day on the local repeaters talking to anyone who would answer his call.  Shel was always welcoming and a great conversationalist.

Later, when I joined the Board, I really got to know him better.  He served as our Club’s Vice President for several years.  Shel was never shy about sharing his thoughts or opinions. He loved to play the lawyer card (and why not? He was one!) and when it worked to our advantage, we love him for it.  I often wrestled with his strong opinions on some matters but more often than not found that Shel was right.

We have an annual event called Field Day…it is an opportunity for us to show the public what ham radio is all about. Shel volunteered to be our host, greeting visitors and explaining what we actually do with these radios. In this, Shel excelled.  He loved sharing his passion for radio and technology, especially with younger people.

Shel became most animated when he reflected on the declining state of engineering today. He was truly concerned that our best and brightest were not  studying engineering.    Ham radio served as the gateway for him to reach out to a young public people. He actively encouraged young people to become scientists or engineers. I remember well being at a ham radio event we sponsored at the Adler Planetarium and watching Shel teach the young visitors at our display how to work the radio.  He brought it down to their level. He seemed as enthralled as the kids were to talk to people around the world using a radio and a simple wire antenna. 

Shel, as many of you know…was scary bright…and holder of many well-thought out opinions!  He would love to share those thoughts with whomever would listen and I loved to listen (it was safer than arguing!!).  We had many lunches together to discuss all manner of stuff… science, electronics, radio, education, the law, marriage, Christianity, Jewish history, Shel could discuss all of these topics in great depth. Sometimes, he would recount how he met and ultimately married Suzy. He often talked about how she inspired him and it was clear, Suzy,  that you were the love of his life. 

More often, Shel would discuss a book he had recently read and reviewed for the Radio Club’s newsletter.  He has left us large body of written reviews, many of them still available on the Internet if you Google them.

Ham radio is a small International community and Shel, embodied the best of ham radio: he was technically astute; he loved to socialize and discuss ideas and he loved to teach. He was always a gentleman.   Personally, I am grateful for his friendship and his passion for this hobby.  Speaking on behalf of the club, I am also thankful to him for the many years he generously shared his time and talents with us.  He made me a better thinker and strategist, and helped us all become better ham radio operators.  K9APE, like his radio call sign, was one of a kind…and as one of my ham colleagues, Bill Steffey,  recently wrote about Shel: “no one could get us thinking more than K9APE.”  He will be missed but well remembered.