[SCCC] Tom McDuffie; 'Ham' with wide-ranging interests helped others

Dennis Vernacchia n6ki73 at gmail.com
Sat Jul 25 11:44:19 PDT 2009


Tom McDuffie; 'Ham' with wide-ranging interests helped others

By Blanca Gonzalez
Union-Tribune Staff Writer

2:00 a.m. July 25, 2009

His interests ranged from butterflies and birds to muscle cars and NASCAR,
but most people knew Tom McDuffie as a "ham."

As manager of the local Ham Radio Outlet store and a longtime amateur radio
operator, Mr. McDuffie advised and mentored many newcomers to the hobby.

He took pride in making two-way radio contact with many foreign countries
and other faraway places, and in helping others get started in amateur
radio. Those he helped included Walter Cronkite, King Hussein of Jordan and
comedian Garry Shandling.

Mr. McDuffie died July 13 at a San Diego hospital after suffering a stroke.
He was 62.

He was known as an accomplished "DXer," which meant he was able to make
two-way radio contact with hundreds of distant stations. Friends and family
said Mr. McDuffie had made contact with nearly every country or entity in
the world.

"It's a very addictive hobby," said friend Jim McCook. "There's a certain
thrill in (connecting) with someplace in the world you hadn't contacted
before It's another victory."

McCook said Mr. McDuffie was among those who had the technique and knowledge
of the airwaves and different frequencies to be able to contact places such
as Mongolia, South Africa and the Czech Republic.

Mr. McDuffie was known as an honest, reliable man of integrity, who was
always willing to offer help and advice, said Bob Gonsett, president of
communications consulting firm CGC.

"You don't find people of Tom's mettle every day," Gonsett said.

Mr. McDuffie's daughter Shannon said he enjoyed networking with people
around the world. "He taught me how to build a radio when I was 12," she

"He had so much knowledge about many things, and he had so much passion for
many aspects of life. He could tell you anything about history, radios,
gardening , " Shannon McDuffie said.

"He could build a car; he had one of the best muscle cars in San Diego. He
could tell you every type of bird and every type of butterfly. He read
everything," she said.

Dan Schrokosch of San Marcos met Mr. McDuffie at the Carlsbad Raceway. "He
always had a smile on his face, and he would help anybody," Schrokosch said.
Mr. McDuffie enjoyed drag racing and showing cars, and was especially proud
of his yellow 1969 Camaro.

In addition to ham radio, gardening and cars, he was a marathon runner and
enjoyed playing golf.

Thomas F. McDuffie Jr. was born March 18, 1947, in Long Beach, where he
graduated from high school and attended Long Beach City College. Serving in
the Army, he was stationed in Germany and other parts of Europe in the

Mr. McDuffie was a salesman for Jim Beam Distillery when Glen Rattman met
him. Rattman was manager of Ham Radio Outlet when he hired Mr. McDuffie to
help him in 1978.

"Tom had a reputation for a wry sense of humor, but he took his job
seriously. He got a sense of satisfaction out of helping people get
acquainted with ham radio," Rattman said.

During his time visiting bars and restaurants for Jim Beam, Mr. McDuffie
developed an interest in wine and food, his daughter said. He was a wine
collector and supported her interest in the culinary arts, said Shannon
McDuffie, who is a chef.

Mr. McDuffie is survived by his wife, Susan of Carlsbad; daughters Dana of
Poway and Shannon of Carlsbad; a brother, Tim of Encinitas; and three
grandchildren. He was preceded in death by a son, Derek.

Services have been held.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Mr. McDuffie's memory
to the American Heart Association, 1710 Gilbreth Road, Burlingame, CA

Blanca Gonzalez: (760) 737-7576;
blanca.gonzalez at uniontrib.com<blanca.gonzalez%40uniontrib.com>

In the Union-Tribune on Page B5

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