90-year-old’s hobby is ham radios

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 13, 2016


At 92, Ralph Dunn has been a ham radio operator for nearly 60 years.

Dunn said he got his license on Christmas Eve 1957.

“I worked at Alatex as an electrician,” he said. “It got to be involving a little electronics and I decided a ham radio would work right in my job.”

Since then, it’s been his hobby.

“It is a means of transferring voice from here to yonder all over the world,” he said. “We can talk all over the world, if you’re on the frequency they are on.”

The last weekend in June is when local ham radio operators have their annual field day, but it’s not something the nonagenarian cares much for these days.

“I used to participate,” he said. “It’s just not my thing anymore. It’s great for younger people to get together and have refreshments.”

But he’s still into his ham radios.

“I still do it,” he said. “I check in on the Alabama Net. That’s a place for transferring intelligence one place to another.”

Dunn said ham operators are good during natural disasters.

“You may not have communication, but a ham radio can communicate,” he said.

One of his favorite memories is helping with the Elba floods.

“There was no communications,” he said. “The telephones were out of order and we handled communication for the Red Cross out of Elba.”

They handled 2,000 pieces of “traffic” out of Elba, he said.

He said he’s talked to California many times and in the Canal Zone, and Europe.

The love of it has kept him doing it all these years, he said.

“And my friends in the area,” he said. “We’ve lost so many hams, but we’ve gained some, too. I hope more hams will get in. We love to have hams in it.”

Dunn said he feels like Hams are necessary.

“We will do what is necessary,” he said.

Another of his favorite stories involved being the communicator for a family out of California whose 11-year-old was missing.

“I talked to them for several weeks,” he said. “Those are some of the enjoyable things I’ve done. It makes me real proud that I can do things like that.”