[CQ-Contest] Re: Gerry Mathis, W3GM, SK

Walter Deemer kn4t at gate.net
Sat Nov 8 20:43:32 EST 1997

I was fortunate enough to have Jerry (the was he spelled his name on his
1950's QSL) as my Contest Elmer and sponsor into the Frankford Radio Club
back in 1957 (I sat next to his son Alan, W3EBG, in school, and took my
Novice test at W3BES in 1956).  Jerry worked at Consolidated Radio on
Saturdays then, so I was called in to keep W3BES on the air in the ARRL DX
Contest when he was at work.  Jerry would start off on Friday night, then
wake me up around 2 am; I'd then operate straight through until he came home
from work, took a quick nap, and came in with a big measuring cup full of
coffee to relieve me.  Then, Sunday's, I'd log for him as well as man the
key once in a while.  I have many unforgettable mind-pictures from those
days -- such as the darkened radio room with the four 866's flashing a
bright blue at 26 WPM whenever we hit the key (and the time the porch light
flashed CW when we were on 40 late at night).  There was also the time I
arrived one Friday night to find a huge toggle switch on the corner of the
desk with wires running all over the place from it; Jerry had figures out to
go from receive to transmit with just ONE switch (a mind-boggling thing back

And if I heard "we'll just do as much as we can for the club", I heard it a
hundred times; Jerry had no illusions that we could "win anything" in the DX
Contest, but just wanted to generate as many points as we possibly could for
Frankford in their legendary battles with PVRC.  (As he said to his wife
when we staggered up the basement stairs one Sunday evening, "Hello, Ma; it
was a great fight -- but we lost."  But we sure piled up a lot of points for
Frankford in the process.)

I also remember Jerry's delight in tweaking the ARRL -- and, especially, Ed
Handy -- at every opportunity.  After the 1960 DX Contest, I asked Jerry,
nervously, if I could operate his station during the April CD Party.  (In
those days "guest opping", unlike today, was almost unheard of.) "Sure", he
replied.  So, all of a sudden, my traditional 150 watt/wire antenna
down-in-the-mud signal became a 1000 watt/cubical quad booming signal -- and
I came in third behind W4DQS and W1TYQ in the April 1960 CD Party.  We told
Handy that a buddy of mine had come up with a new antenna design, which he
didn't want me to talk about, and I had tested it for him during the contest
with results we were both happy with.  They printed the story -- and Jerry
chuckled about it for years.  (The only person who saw through our little
flim-flam was Mel, K4LPW, who announced the next time he saw me "W3GYP
doesn't sound like that; W3BES sounds like that!")

I can see Jerry's spirit and enthusiasm in every humongous club score
Frankford keeps piling up in contest after contest -- and hope they will
live forever in all who knew him.  I know they will in me -- and I am
eternally thankful that Jerry was there, at that early stage of my life, to
teach me not just to be a better contester, but a better person as well.

Thanks, W3BES, for everything you gave me...

-- Walt, KN4T (ex-W3GYP)             

To see Jerry's 1957 QSL, go to:


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