Doug DeMaw, W1FB.

A Tribute, by George Dobbs, G3RJV

It was with great sadness that I heard the news of the death of Doug DeMaw, W1FB. After fighting leukaemia for several months, Doug died on September 28th, aged 71.

I first got to know Doug through his writing in the early 1970's. At that time I was attempting to update my amateur radio technology from valves to solid state. My local library was generous enough to keep copies of the QST and in their pages I found a fellow traveller. Doug, then W1CER,hadjust become the Technical Editor of the ARRI. He was shifting the emphasis of their QST magazine from valve to solid state design. My early introduction to transistor circuit design and the first solid state projects I built came directly from his writing. It was lucid, it was interesting and I understood it.

Milton F. "Doug"" DeMaw was first licensed in 1950 as W8HHS. He was the son of a farmer in North Michigan. He spoke of his early days with a great fondness. The family grew their vegetables and frequently hunted their own meat. He began his working life as an engineer at the University of Michigan, then working with and aeronautical research company in San Diego. He also worked in radio and television engineering at WWTV and WATT radio in Cadillac, Michigan. He was chief engineer and part-time DJ for Radio WATT.

In 1960 he founded Avtronics in Traverse City, a company manufacturing low frequency radio beacons for civilian airports. He sold Avtronics in 1963, and began Comaire Electronics, manufacturing VHF and UHF amateur radio equipment. During his time running Avtronics, he established the VHFer magazine. This was taken over by Loren Parks, K7AAD, when Doug joined the ARRL staff in 1965.

He began his work on the ARRL Headquarters staff as an assistant Technical Editor. In 1968 he was promoted to Handbook Editor and Laboratory Supervisor and in 1970 he succeeded the late George Grammer, W1DF, as Senior Technical Editor and Technical Department Manager. This marked the beginning of what I can only call the "golden years" of the QST magazine. Every issue seemed to be full of good technical articles and worthwhile projects to build.

During this time Doug deMaw produced and wrote several books for the ARRL. Solid State Design for the Radio Amateur, which he co-authored with Wes Hayward, W7ZOI, was the classic. I believe it to be probably the best technical book ever written on amateur radio. It was written exactly 20 years ago and I still use it constantly in my amateur radio construction. I understand that the co-authorship was not an easy road but it has entertained and informed me for all it's 20 years.

Doug served on the ARRL staff for over 18 years and is said to have written more than 200 technical articles in the QST. He earned several patents for his research work and practically invented the concept of QRP construction. He had a great love for low power HF band amateur radio and his many articles were largely responsible for popularising QRP operation with home made equipment. Doug's wife, Jean, W1CKK, also worked on the staff of the ARRL and their son David is licensed as N8HLE.

Doug retired early, in 1983 on the death of his father, and returned to live in the family farm in Michigan. It was then I believe he did some of his best writing. The small series of what I call his "farm books", are outstanding. W1FB's QRP NOTEBOOK and W1FB'S DESIGN NOTEBOOK are the ones that I re-read constantly.

It is not difficult to work our that W1FB was my hero. I have been inspired by his work for many years and he has kept the hobby alive for so many people. It is a lucky man who can come to know a hero as friend and I am glad to say that happened with Doug. When I began my writing for amateur radio magazine, Doug DeMaw was my model. The ARRL staff used to say of Doug, "he wrote it once and it was done!" In the 1980's I was more than pleased when he subscribed to SPRAT, and absolutely delighted when he began to write to me about SPRAT and even about the articles I wrote for UK radio magazines.

We exchanged mail for several years and I first visited Doug at the end of a trip to the Dayton Hamvention in 1992. Dick Pascoe,G0BPS, and I did the day's drive from central Ohio to northern Michigan to visit the Oak Hills Farm. It was a visit to a deity! The farmhouse lies just outside the tiny village of Luther among the lakes and forests of north Michigan. The house is beautifully restored and much of the surrounding land has been left to return to the wild. Here Doug followed his other great loves, black powder shooting, hunting and cooking with natural ingredients. We were served wild deer and onions gathered from the local forest. Jean DeMaw was a lovely hostess as well as being a keen shot with muzzled loaded rifle.

On my next visit to the Oak Hills Farm, I was presented with a wooden plaque which had my callsign burned on a deer jawbone. It had the inscription, "Primitive Man Endorsement. In recognition of the accomplishments of Rev. George Dobbs, G3RJV, who has demonstrated at Luther, Michigan, his skill and deadly marksmanship with primitive muzzle-loading weapons, for having eaten wild deer meat and for quaffing native grog at the Luther tavern. Rev. Dobbs has earned the title of Mountain Man and Buckskinner. By the hand of Doug DeMaw,W1FB, 1994" I also cherish a small cup fashioned from deer horn by Doug and presented to me on condition that it would only ever contain spirits.

In 1992, the American QRP ARCI, revived the QRP Hall of Fame Award and Doug was the first named recipient. I was also chosen to receive the award at the same time as Doug. My own amateur radio writing is modelled on Doug's style and I have always tried to make it as interesting and worthwhile as his work. Doug was presented with his plaque first and after I received mine I joined him, I looked up to him and said, "I don't know why they gave me one of these?" He looked down from his height and in the deep voice, that always reminded me of James Stewart, said, "I reckon for about the same reason they gave me one." Without doubt, the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me!

The last contact I had with Doug DeMaw was about 10 days before his death. He sent me and email. It was a joke about a nun. Nothing else. An era in amateur radio has ended!

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