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Gary Schmidt W5ZL, SK
Gary Schmidt W5ZL

Gary Schmidt W5ZL died early in the morning on Sunday, February 12, 2012. Gary was diagnosed with a very aggressive colon cancer in May, 2011. The cancer moved quickly to other parts of his body, and two chemotherapy treatment cycles did not slow the spread. He had recently celebrated his 66th birthday and 43rd wedding anniversary with his wife, Leslie. To Gary's delight, Leslie was recently licensed and has obtained his former call sign K5JFP. Leslie was with him to the end. Gary put up a valiant fight, enduring months of chemotherapy and discomfort but his cancer finally got the best of him.

Gary was born in Houston on January 19, 1946. Gary was an energetic technology hobbyist and accomplished CW operator from a young age. He was originally licensed as KN5JFP in 1957 (having just turned 11 years old), and then upgraded to K5JFP. As a junior high school student in 1957, Gary participated in the International Geophysical Year activities as an official communication relay operator for the American expedition in Antarctica. He graduated from Bellaire High School in 1964 and received a BS degree in Industrial Technology from Texas A&M University in 1968. Gary moved to Austin after graduation to work for Tracor. He met the love of his life Leslie in Austin, and they were married in 1969. Pursuing a career move to Martin-Marietta, Gary and Leslie moved to Colorado in 1971, where Gary held the call sign W0OOY. In 1974, they returned to Austin where Gary co-founded a digital video business called River City Productions and Gary received the call sign W5UUE. Gary was also W5WC on the way to finally getting the call sign W5ZL in 2003. Professionally, Gary transitioned to the role of Director of Product Development for SMRC and later to Chief Operating Officer for Amethyst Research Corporation. During his 55 year amateur radio career, Gary was active in low power (sometimes QRP) DXing, contesting, and rag-chewing. Although he did work all modes, including some digital, Gary's greatest love was always CW.

DX calls that Gary has operated with over the years include: G5ARM, GM5ARM, ON8WA, F0VL, PA9KX, HB9XJK, HB0XJK, K5JFP/DL, OE1ZSW, W5UUE/SM, VK4CQB, W5UUE/ZL, V31ZL, VP2V/W5ZL, 6Y5/W5ZL, LZ/W5ZL. R3/W5ZL and OH/W5ZL. Major DX contest efforts in which Gary participated include multiple operations from Belize at V31MD and V31TP, as well as under his own call sign of V31ZL. Gary was one of the operators at the 6Y1V superstation in Jamaica for the 2008 CQ World Wide DX Contest, CW. Tim K3LR invited Gary to join his multi-multi team for the CQ World Wide DX Contest, CW in 2009. In recent years, Gary also enjoyed many rover operations in the Texas QSO Party and the Oklahoma QSO Party.

One of his proudest moments in amateur radio was representing Team USA in the High Speed Telegraphy (HST) World Championships in Bulgaria in 2009, where he finished 9th place overall in his age group. In 2010, in what he described as "the thrill of my radio lifetime", Gary was a referee at the 2010 World Radiosport Team Championship (WRTC) held near Moscow, Russia. Gary was an active member of the American Radio Relay League and the First Class CW Operators' Club (FOC). He was a charter member of the CW Operators' Club, and he was the President of the Central Texas DX and Contest Club at the time of his death.

Gary's many radio friends around the world will miss his friendly smile, great sense of humor, clean fist, and superior operating abilities.


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