Sam, WB2HAE was my friend for over 10 years. Sam and I met after we had a great QSO on 53.430 around 1989 when it was the only 6m repeater in central NJ, open with no PL required, he on his HT and me on my FT-680R, we chatted and found common bonds as he went through all his charged battery packs for a couple hours of ragchew.
Sam was an Amateur's Amateur. He was raised in New Jersey, lived for many years in Florida and came back to New Jersey in the mid 80's. He was a member of various amateur club's at one time or another, to inlcude the Old Bridge Radio Association (OBRA) when he lived in Clifwood and the Jersey Shore Amateur Radio Society (JSARS) locally. However in the last decade he had no club affiliations, he was tired of the politics that always seem to enter the picture. He and I just missed first meeting 10 years earlier, as I was also a member of OBRA when I lived in Sayreville, however I did not join until 1980 and at that point he was down in Florida for a few years if I remember correctly.
Sam was a General class licensee and just loved to tinker with radio, he liked building things more than anything next to horse trading in gear. At that time we met up he had three repeater systems on the air from his residence hosted site and tower system. There was 53.430, 146.955 (half owner) and 440.300 as well as involvment with another repeater off site on 224 that I can't remember much about. The 6 meter repeater was his favorite, but the least used. The 440 repeater was used just slightly more and the 2m repeater came next. But that was fine with him, just a few core user's was all that was needed for him, it was the tinkering and the building of the systems that he enjoyed most. This was something that he and I really shared in common, although to that point and long after I had been doing my tinkering building Automated Test Systems (ATE) at the day job and just wanted to ham on-the-air after hours. I am now back to tinkering in the hobby and hamming during my day job so to speak as I am now in sales, hi hi, repeater building has taken my main attention for the moment and Sam had lots to do with that.
As one can tell, Sam was most interested in the VHF/UHF repeater aspect of the hobby, however he was into HF and other VHF/UHF modes, to include weak signal work and ATV. However repeater systems was his only interest after a time. That and the almost daily buying/selling and trading of anything electronic, especially radio and computer gear. He had other interests as well, Cars, Boating, Fishing, Hunting and Target Shooting. His failing health over the last few years took him away from doing most of the things that he loved most however.
In early 2001, I ended up buying the 53.430 system from Sam. He wanted it to go to a good home. He allowed me to pay him for it ($600.00) but he basically wanted to give it away to me, although I haggled on the price of it with him because he liked that. Sam was a wheeler dealer in the used amateur gear world and from it he received great joy, he just loved to deal. However, his dealing on the sale of the 6m system was just for show. He just wanted me to have it and configure it with all the lastest bells and whistles using computers to keep it on the air for the benefit of the amateur community. Also, he knew I would not feel good about the deal unless I payed him for it, and I knew that he wanted me to have it more than anyone else, so we played the game and I got great a deal from my good friend that I felt good about.
The 146.955 repeater he co-owned with Al "Bud" Portsmore, KA2GEI. The had bought it from another local amateur to whom it later ended up back in the hands of after a number of deals over the years. Sam wanted to keep the system, however he eventually sold his half ownership in the 2m system after the tower was damaged in a freak tree cutting accident. After over a year of less than great coverage with the tower half of its previous 100 foot height, and a 1/4 wave ground plane antenna put into temperory use, Sam caved into to Bud's constant nagging and sold off all his interest in the system to him (and his silent partners). This sale included all but the transmission line, antenna and tower that were Sam's property. Sam had recently made me a present of the Super Station Master antenna when he learned that I planned a two meter repeater. I had tried to buy it from Sam, but that was not to be, he insisted on making me a present of it as he said money for it would be an insult to him as he wanted it to be a gift. This worried me at the time as he had given me many pieces of radio equipments over the the years he had no use for any longer, I do the same with my friends, but not like this. He actually wanted me to buy into the 146.955 system years ago, back then I was just not interested in owning an FM repeater, however at the time I was busy trying to get a 70cm ATV repeater system on the air. When I finally came around to the idea that a 2m repeater would be a good idea for an intercomm on the ATV system it was too late. Earlier this year I was involved in an attempt to buy the 146.955 system from its current owners as it was on the block, having it partly in my possession and linked to 53.430 would have made Sam very happy, but I was not able to make the deal reallity.
Sam held onto the his 440 repeater system however. He had moved the location from his residence before the tower accident and kept if going until his health problem began and he lost his site. It had been off the air for many years prior to his death. He wanted me to buy it along with the 53.430 system but I did not have an interest as I did not have a good site for 440 coverage to host it. Later we talked about it again as my system plans developed further, but I still did not have the interest in a 440 repeater as I did not have plans for installing a tower at my site. He talked about selling it to someone if I was not interested in it.
Then one day he called on the phone and said he had finally he decided that he was going to put the system back on the air at is location if I would allow him to link it with my system. He even offered up some Motorola Mitrek radios to use for the linking. This took away my previous worries that he his health was really failing he was giving away things to me as his days were numbered. So that was the plan we agreed to implement, he would host the 440 repeater on his tower and we would link into my hub for the IRLP and other features.
This will not happen now obviously, this plan was his final amateur radiorelated joy, it was thinking about this that keeping him going, however he knew it was not to as his health was failing fast, I did not know this however.
My plan is to now integrate the all equipments that he left for me as much as possible into the system from my location in tribute to Sam.
I for one will truly miss my friend, Sam was unique among my other friends, many of whom are also fellow amateurs. Sam was not only an Amateur's Amateur, he was a Friend's Friend.
Rest in peace my Friend.
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