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John Bierman (KL7GNP)
July 27, 2003
As I age I see more and more hams are passing from the scene. Each time I recognize another one's passing, I remember them by the name and callsign. Names from Alaska like Tim, Al, Del and George that have gone on bring flashes of memories. Most times it is hard to recall what they looked like, but sometimes I do. In some cases I fondly remember the hams in the company of another like a couple that belongs together. Couples like Al & Debbie, Wilse & Betty, John & Dottie. That is how I last saw them and how I still remember them. I see more and more of my past friends listed in the QST column of silent keys. Most I remember only in general with no specifics. Yesterday, the 27th of July, I got an e-mail of another passing. Unlike most others, it immediately brought to mind many things. I saw him immediately as if time had not passed us by. I remember the times I went to his home and was always greeted by that warm smile that welcomed me not just TO his home but INTO his home. As he shook my hand and put his left hand on my shoulder ushering me into his home, that let me know he was sincerely offering me the warmth of the home. As he led me to the kitchen in the rear of the home, his voice said volumes about this easy going manner and how he felt about those around him. His wife, Dottie by his side; let you know that the home was truly one of love and everyone was welcomed in the same way. He was the QSL manager for a long time and I saw how he managed the files so every ham would get the cards sent to them. John enjoyed being a ham and helping others be hams as well. He was at flea markets, swap fests and club meetings and always ready to help another ham. He was taller the me and weighed less and I remember his sweater hanging lightly on him as he walked. He was steady and not quick. I moved from Alaska in July of 1983 and after all these years I was surprised at how the notice of his passing brought all those memories back as no other has. I didn't know John well and the little time I got to spend with him and Dottie were always pleasant and far too short. It is the memories such as this that causes me to retain my callsign after all these years. Although I have left, my heart still returns to the times that were so enjoyable and the people, like John, that made them that way. After 20 years I can say that I will miss John. His smile, his warmth and his grace. I can imagine hearing God as John went home, "Welcome John, I have been waiting. I have some things that need a warm heart and steady hand to organize and you are that one person who can do it. Welcome home." Farewell John, and God speed.
Contributed by: Frank Drake (KL7IPV)
I must say you remembered John accurately. What a gentleman he was! Dottie was always a friendly spirit in their warm little home as well. John and Dottie were my neighbors, they lived just across the street a bit from me and would always welcome a phone call from this young ham, all excited to get a card. I remember calling John time and time again to see if i had a card in yet, his calm and friendly voice would would always be willing to check for me and was always willing to just chat about simple pleasures and the joy of ham radio. I remember one time calling John and asking if anything was in...I can sincerely remember his voice in my head as he said "Would you believe....you got ONE!", I was so excited and told him i was on my way down the street to pick it up....he was happy to have me in. But when i went to pick up cards, it was more than just about qsl cards, I would always look forward to going to his home because it really had a nice calming effect on the soul. His home was fairly small and comfy, soft light, little knicknacks all over the place, and his shack was cozy as he smoked his pipe and would share stories of ham radio past....what a true gentleman who never judged, never grew weary of seeing me, and everytime i left his house to go home, I felt good. I would always say goodbye to Dottie and Fred the Bassett hound and leave with more than qsl cards...I would leave with a little bit of history and a good feeling. He always had a calm demeanor and a robust voice that was easy to listen to, his home smelled of sweet pipe tobacco and Dotties cooking and a nice fire, great sense of humor and not to mention, eloquent handwriting.
I left Alaska in 1986 and that was the last time i visited John and Dottie. I still treasure his qsl card with his nice note thanking me for helping out in the Iditarod race. He also had a great fist on CW, i would hear him from time to time on CW and occasionally on SSB, I will always remember hearing "KL7GrossNationalProduct" in that unmistakeable voice. Hearing of Johns passing was depressing, but only for a moment as i know he lived a full life and appeared to be a quite content man...he just had everything he could ask for so i suspect he left us as a happy man. He will be greatly missed and I will never forget John. He will be one of my stories i tell my grandchildren, a lesson i hope to pass on to them about what life really means...its not about the finish line, its about the scenery and truly enjoying the ride. I feel John did this, I respect him for that and admire his personality. Maybe we can qso again one day on the other side....as Frank said, Godspeed John, I send a CQ into the night for you. 73...Adam, N7YA (x-NL7CT)
Contributed by: N7YA (N7YA)
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