Gene Harlan (WB9MMM)
1944 - 2008
You could say that ham radio changed Gene Harlan’s life.
He received his novice license in 1973. He had quite a hardtime learning the code, and then increasing his speed up to 13WPM for his general class, but Gene made it within the two-year period allowed by the novice license.
During this time he worked at a retail store as an assistant man-ager. He realized how much he enjoyed electronics, and throughthe local club here in Rockford, IL met an electronics professorfrom the community college. Gene decided to return to schoolto study electronics. After enrolling at Rock Valley College heleft the retail field to begin work for a calibration lab. Aftergraduation he was hired as Field Service Manager at W.A.Whitney, where he worked for thirteen years. In 1984 Gene wasoffered a job as Chief Engineer at Arachnid, which manufactureselectronic dart games. He was still employed there when hepassed away twenty-four years later.
Gene enjoyed every aspect of amateur radio. He attained his advanced class license so he could work slow scan TV. One year I gave him a Sound Blaster for Christmas. The wheels in his head began to turn. He asked himself, “How can I use this with Slow Scan?” He started programming and after a while,with some errors of course, he came out with his Slow Scanwith the Sound Blaster program. With that he was ready to start Harlan Technologies, not really knowing if the program wouldsell. His first trip to Dayton, Ohio was with this program and he was very excited to be able to speak at the Slow Scan forum.This started a long series of trips to the Hamvention.
Gene always wanted to do a magazine and thought the combina-tion of ham radio and computers would be a great concept. Atthat time ATVQ was not available so we launched the magazineCyberham. At the same time we acquired OSCAR SatelliteReport. These two publications kept us busy for a while.OSCR was losing subscribers, due to the internet, and Cyberhamjust could not get enough advertising to keep it going. Just about the time we were ending Cyberham, Henry Ruh called to ask Gene if he wanted ATVQ. After some discussion we decided to take it over. Gene’s first issue was the Summer 1997issue. Thus began a love affair with ATV. Gene liked every aspect of amateur radio, but this mode fast became his passion.
The magazine was a great joy to Gene. He always enjoyed get-ting the articles from the different writers and then laying the magazine out. He had plenty of articles and fillers thanks to all the ATV guys on the internet. He really liked to get that first box of magazines so he could open it and see the finished product.The advertisers were very loyal as well as the stores that carried the magazine.
The advertisers werevery loyal as well as thestores that carried themagazine. Gene was the drivingforce behind the ATVrepeater here inRockford. We have asmall group of guyshere that are interestedin ATV. Gene alwayswanted the group togrow and become activein emergency communi-cations. He was alsoactive in our local radioclub, the RockfordAmateur RadioAssociation, serving asPresident two times,Treasurer, and duringthe last year as VicePresident. Music was abig part of his life sowhen he wasn’t promoting ATV he was playing tuba for fourbands.
Then came January 3, 2008; the day our lives were changedagain. This was the day that Gene received the diagnosis ofALS. Never in a million years did we believe that the diseasewould move so rapidly. Gene tried to keep going as usual as thedisease took its toll on his body. We made the trip to Dayton in2008 but it was very hard. He could still walk with a walker,but the Hamfest would have been too much, so he rode aroundon a scooter. As the disease affected his right side it became toodangerous for him to drive. He began working at home forArachnid by the end of June. We ordered his power wheelchairthat month and by August, he could no longer walk.
We set up his “office” in the kitchen where he was able to havehis laptop. He was able to continue emailing his friends and getarticles for the fall issue of ATVQ. I knew that the issue wouldbe his last. I am glad that Bill Brown, WB8ELK, and MikeCollis, WA6SVT, have stepped forward to take over where Geneleft off. I am very proud of what the publication has becomeand proud of Gene for the job he did as publisher.
Gene died at 6 AM on November 26th, 2008, eleven monthsafter his diagnosis. His death has left a huge hole in the amateurradio community and he will be missed by everyone.