Farewell Bill G4WJS, SK

We are stunned to hear of the sudden loss of Bill G4WJS:

“Sad news and so suddenly for him to be taken from us.  I remember when Bill moved to Stokenchurch and his tower went up and I spoke to him just before we moved from that high location. Bill treated everyone the same and would help with his knowledge, a sad loss to us all. “ — Min G0JMS

A most helpful gentleman. I had several contacts with him on the Bracknell 70 CM repeater using a Baofeng BFT-1 mini walkie talkie on the Sunday 1700Z net. SK was most unexpected.  DE G4ELD

“That is very sad news indeed, he helped me a lot and he was always available. Even when his status on Discord was set to offline he was often still monitoring and answering. I worked him many times from home and from S5 in different modes, not just FT8, and only last week we discussed possible solutions to my windows-10 laptop crashing repeatedly. He will be missed,R.I.P. Bill G4WJS” — Michael M0MPM

“Bill was humble yet definitive at the same time! He is very well known in Amateur circles because he got involved in lots of conversations with new and old amateurs a like. You’d not necessarily know, that this man was instrumental in one of the leading digital modes that is used by many ham radio enthusiasts on the planet. Bill made his mark in so many ways. He is a seriously clever bloke! His depth of knowledge and understanding of a myriad of topics was outstanding. When Bill gave an opinion on something, you’d get the feeling that he had played through the thought process that came to the decision like a master chess player. Checkmate every time. Bill really knew his stuff. He was very kind with sharing his knowledge. He held strong to things he believed in. Bill was a star. The shiniest of stars, but he wouldn’t subscribe to that opinion of him. He would just carry on shining. ” — Brett 2E0HFW

Bill helped me with many activities including testing my new 2m and 70cm antennas, my first MS contacts and my first EME contacts.   He even persuaded me to try a 2m Ionsospheric scatter contact (yet to be achieved).  We had lots of discussions both on the air and via Discord and Zoom.   Bill was a true inspiration. RIP Bill” — Mike G4CDF

“I first met Bill around 20 years ago when he moved to Stokenchurch and became active on the VHF Bands. We had a common interest in VHF dxing and Contests. Bill was degree educated, Chemistry if I remember correctly, but worked as a Software Engineer for local companies. My background was in mechanical engineering, so we were able to readily exchange ideas. During the following years we did many contests together from 160m to 70cm with the Maidenhead Amateur Radio Club of which we were both members and of which he eventually became Chairman. Following the clubs demise, we both joined the Reading club of which he was an active member until his death.

During our early exchanges I mentioned that I was using a piece of software called WSJT which had originally been given to me in 2002 at the Prague EME conference and updated at subsequent EME conferences. We spent many hours discussing this and my hardware disasters trying to use it. Following a call for help by Joe Taylor sometime around 2008, we discussed how he may be able to help. That led to his involvement with the WSJT-X program.

Bill had endless patience and had the unique ability to resolve issues over email in a way that very few people could. I remember one evening, we were doing a Pub Quiz, in the interval he was answering questions posed to him on the WSJT reflector, and there were many, all answered with the same patience and understanding.

More recently during the recent SV5/HB9COG EME dxpedition, there was a problem with the way Q65 was treating compound callsigns, Bill was able to remote into my shack PC and effectively sit on my shoulder and see what was going on in the software that was causing the decoding problem.

RIP Bill, you will be fondly remembered. ” — Dave G4RGK

Terrible news, hugely shocking. In amongst the tributes flooding in, there is a very touching tribute from Paul G4YKQ on the WSJT-X mailing list which I would like to draw people’s attention to: https://wsjtx.groups.io/g/main/message/30558. On November 14th, Bill sent the following photo of the birds on his mast to the antennas channel on the club’s Discord. It stood out from the noise to me somehow. I wanted to share it a little wider, I hope you don’t mind. — Tom M0LTE

Bill said “Getting to that time of Year when the Starlings really like aerials to perch on.”

Whilst most will know of Bill through WSJT-X, we were privileged to see many different sides to Bill. He loved amateur radio in all its forms. This shone through in his contributions to the club. He was equally at home encouraging newcomers or working through some tricky technical issue with the most experienced members on anything from RF/electronics to propagation queries. His knowledge and experience were truly vast.

As has been noted elsewhere, his clarity of thought was legendary. This wasn’t just evident technically. My phone QSOs via GB3BN with Bill when out walking were a delight. It’s a measure of the man that he could go to the most technically rarefied areas of the hobby such as weak signal work at VLF but still be quite happy to have a chat on 70cm FM.

It goes without saying his contribution to to WSJT-X is vast terms of code written. More often that not, Bill would be “pulling a release together” or working through some tests – never the easiest of tasks. His diligence and thoughtfulness in his support work speak for themselves.

Bill loved writing code. Any software engineers out there know what I mean. To this end, he had a few projects lined up involving microcontrollers, FPGAs and DACs. It’s impossible to believe they won’t now happen.

I only ever know Bill through local QSOs or through online media such as video conferencing or the club online discussion forum. His presence was always such that I can hardly believe this is the case.

Bill at home in his shack on zoom

A star that shone so brightly.

RIP Bill.

John

G4RDC

RADARC Secretary