I N M E M O R I A M
L E N O R E J E N S E N
Formerly - W9CHD, W2NAZ, A6NAZ
Oct. 4, 1913 to May 5, 1993
Cliff Cheng, Ph.D.
AC6C --at-- ARRL --dot-- com
© 2008, Cliff Cheng, Ph.D. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
This webpage honors Lenore Jensen, W6NAZ (sk); formerly W9CHD, W2NAZ, A6NAZ (MARS). Lenore lived from Oct. 4, 1913 to May 5, 1993. She was one of amateur radio's most prominent operators; possibly the hobby's most famous YL (woman) in its history. In 1939 she co-founded the YL Radio League. During WWII she founded a radio course for women through the American Women's Voluntary Services and taught CW (Morse code) to the U.S. Navy. In the 1950s she ran phone patches for U.S. Air Force personnel stations at remote bases such as Antarctica and Greenland. She ran a USO net which made phone patches for service personnel. She was honored by This is Your Life. During Vietnam she made tens of thousands of phone patches for GIs; enabling them to phone home via ham radio from the combat zone. She promoted amateur radio by using her media contacts she gained as an actress and produced public service announcements with major celebrities. She was on several radio and TV programs promoting the hobby. She won the Dayton Hamfest's Special Achievement Award in 1983. In 2008 she was posthumously inducted into the CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame. Please read on......and please visit the photo pages and pictures at the bottom of this page too.
At our club, the San Fernando Valley Amateur Radio Club, W6SD's, (SFVARC) Annual Holiday Banquet in 2007, I (Cliff Cheng, Ph.D., AC6C) was totally surprised when my name was announced that I had co-won an award for service to the amateur radio community, www.W6SD.com. (see endnote 1) First I was surprised that I co-won an award. I did not hear the name of the award. When I got back to my seat I was pleasantly surprised to read it was "The Jensen Award." This award really means a lot to me! I knew Lenore, W6NAZ (sk) (formerly W9CHD, W2NAZ, A6NAZ) and her husband Bob, W6VGQ (sk)(formerly W9DQM, A6VGQ), Jensen. Bob, Lenore and I were club mates at SFVARC.
Bob Jensen (Jan. 8, 1912 to Sept. 8, 1987) spent 38 years working as an engineer at the NBC TV network. The competing news networks had to "pool" their resources together to cover the Apollo Moon Landing and select a single team of reporters and engineers. Bob was his industry's choice as their head engineer; sort of like making the all-star team on one of the most significant events in the history of humankind. (2) For our club each year, and for hamfests and other clubs, he would have an ever improving version of his lecture "From Marconi to the Hollywood Squares" in which he taught us about the history of overcoming technical challenges to engineer a show as complicated as the Hollywood Squares. (3) Here is a link to a PBS video of Bob talking about old radio http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDg-9SlHv3I. He was also on the Board of Directors for Reading for the Blind, a charity in which volunteers read books aloud that are recorded for blind people to listen to.
Lenore was a dynamo of an ambassador for ham radio. She would walk into a room and everyone would greet her. She was very charismatic! No matter how many people came up to her and stepped in front of me to get to her, she would acknowledge me and make her way to back to me and spend a few minutes with me to encourage me when I was a shy little teenage novice. She would ask was my code speed improving, was I studying the theory, was I having fun operating, had I gotten any interesting QSL cards lately?
When Lenore came into the room everything stopped. It seemed like she knew about just all the hams in town, and at ham conventions we were at together she knew most of those hams too. Lenore made things happen. She was sort of like a movie producer. She put people together and got them to cooperate to advance ham radio and her other good works.
Lenore was arguably the best known woman in ham radio. When I started as a ham and shortly thereafter met the Jensens in the mid-1970s, ham radio was, and still is predominantly Caucasian men in their 50s and older. Lenore stood out for she was a woman who could be likened to the Rosalind Russell character in Howard Hawks' classic 1940 movie, His Girl Friday about a female journalist. Lenore was much like Katherine Hepburn in her movies with Spencer Tracy who succeeded in a man's world based on her intelligence, wit and charm. (4)
Meeting Lenore and Bob
Bob and Lenore lived in Sherman Oaks, one of the San Fernando Valley suburbs of Los Angeles and belonged to SFVARC which was also the club of my elmer Ted Ryan, WB6JXY's (sk), see: www.TedRyan.bappy.com. Ted spent 35 years teaching ham radio for our club. Ted's day job was as the electric shop teacher at John Burroughs Jr. High School in Los Angeles (JB). I was one of Ted's students at JB. SFVARC had "adopted our school" (though the term had not been invented in 1974). Ted's students took part in SFVARC's field days. During any given week, we had at least a visit or two from SFVARC members, including Bob and Lenore, who would come "over the hill" (from the San Fernando Valley suburbs into LA proper) and help Ted send code practice, help the kids in the shop, help them get on the air.
The kids loved Lenore who was very warm and kind. I was very impressed with Bob's ability to troubleshoot circuits. Our Heathkits had turned into "griefkits" because we could not get them to work. We were not doing much better with the military surplus radios we tried to fix. Bob came over one day and casually looked over these circuits for about 2 seconds and told us what was wrong after we had struggled for weeks or months trying to fix them. Bob had a very strong background in RF. His father was a ham at least since 1906; with the callsign 9YD. It is not that Ted was incapable or unwilling to help us; Ted had his hands full with all the kids he had to attracted to ham radio. The help SFVARC members lent was important to Ted's success.
One time Bob and Lenore came to visit. I had a just bought a used Heathkit DX60B crystal controlled novice CW transmitter. I was discouraged for I was not making any contact from home. The rig was on the bench in Electric Shop. Bob glanced at the transmitter and diagnosed the problem. Bob and Lenore asked me about my home station - my antenna, operating times, what crystals I had... Later that night after my paper route was done and I had finished my homework and household chores, I sat down to down to call CQ and Lenore came back to me right away. She must have been waiting for me to get on. We had a pleasant QSO. Then Bob got on and worked me. A few days later they dropped by school and gave me their QSLs cards in front of the class. This was what really got the other young novices excited to see me actually get QSLs. I think they planned it that way.
One terrible Monday we came to school and discovered the electric shop had been burglarized and vandalized over the weekend. Our HF transceiver was stolen. It was a Swan 260, the early model with the green tuning eye instead of a meter. As soon as Ted put the word out on the repeater (I do not recall with one), Bob and Lenore came over to help.
Lenore was a woman of action! She was also very persuasive and charming. She arranged for the loan of a Tempo 1 HF transceiver, from a SFVARC member and had us back on the air the next day!
She took on the cause of fundraising to buy us a Tempo 1. That Saturday we had a car wash with a bake sale on the side. I remember the car wash very distinctly. As we washed the cars, Ted would send us code practice. He sent messages like, "you missed the right front bumper." Ted never missed a chance to teach us CW!
Thanks to Lenore, Bob, Ted and the members of SFVARC who drove over the hill to get a car wash, we got a better radio than the Swan 260 which got stolen. Lenore's step-daughter Cindy Wall, KA7ITT recalls, Lenore was fond of quoting Albert Schweitzer who said "To find you are needed somewhere and are able to lend a helping hand is the nourishment the soul requires."
Lenore's mother Geneva Bourgeotte was complaining of severe stomach pains.(5) Geneva thought it was food poisoning from some short ribs she ate. She had her husband Walter go get a Doctor. As it turned out it was not bad short ribs; it was the birth of Lenore. Lenore's family was in vaudeville. Lenore was born on Oct. 4, 1913 as Eleanor Bourgeotte in Los Angeles.(6)
The Bourgeottes lived in Encino, just off of Coldwater Canyon Blvd. in the San Fernando Valley suburbs of LA. Lenore was a child performer.
A publicist had changed her name to Lenore Kingston which she used professionally.(7) Lenore played Mercedes Colby on the radio soap Don Wilson of the Navy, which debuted over the Blue Network in 1937.(8, 9) In 1939, according to the reference guide Big Broadcast, 1950-1970, Lenore acted on three radio soap operas: Affairs of Anthony, as June Daly, Against the Storm, as Ebba Fielding, Mid Stream.(10, 11, 12, 13) Lenore also acted on NBC's long running Ma Perkins radio series.(14, 15) During this period Lenore modeled in addition to her radio acting (QST, May 1940:23).
At age 26 in 1939, Lenore earned her first ham ticket, in Chicago as W9CHD. She became interested in ham radio when she was a radio actress under contract at NBC. On breaks she would talk to the engineers as most of them were hams. She built a 40M CW crystal Utah transmitter kit and went on the air (QST, Dec. 1987). Both her first husband, Joe Conn, and her second, Bob Jensen, were engineers.(16)
In 1939, Lenore co-founded the Young Ladies Radio League (YLRL); the women's national amateur radio association which is still active today. She was YLRL's District Chairman in Chicago (QST, May 1940:23).(17) There were almost 100 YLs Lenore's district (QST, May 1940:23). It is likely that Lenore encouraged many of these women to get their ham licenses.
Lenore reported she spent 30% of her operating time handling traffic (QST, May 1940:23). From this statistic, we can see Lenore started off as a traffic handler, a skill that would be very important in her later work. QST (May 1940:23) emphasized the YLs had other hobbies than ham radio.(18) For Lenore, QST (May 1940:23) listed golfing, sewing and making recordings.
In 1940 she moved to New York and got the reciprocal callsign W2NAZ (QST, Dec. 1987; Amateur Radio Newsline, May 18, 1993). New York was where Lenore started operating on phone (QST, Dec. 1987). During World War II she founded a radio course for the American Womens Voluntary Services and taught them CW (QST, Dec. 1987; http://www.marinecorpsmars.com/CIV%20OPS/sk_jensen_lenore_misc.htm).(19) Lenore also was teaching Morse code to U.S. Navy radiomen.
Norm Kleiman, K1AA recalls that Lenore had very elaborate custom QSL cards in the 1940s that had Hollywood movie themes. (20)
Back to LA
Lenore moved back to LA after World War II with her first husband Joe Conn, W2MSC (sk)(Amateur Radio Newsline, May 18, 1993).(20a) They moved because NBC had opened up a new production facility in Hollywood. Bob Jensen, whom she knew and worked with at NBC in New York made this move too.
In LA, Lenore became active on all bands (QST, Dec. 1987). She and Joe started doing phone patches for American military personnel (QST, Dec. 1987). Feb. 1986, QST (pp. 86), places the start date of Lenore's patching as 1955. Lenore was also active in the YL Radio Club of Los Angeles (QST, 1986: 86).
According to IMDB.com, Lenore appeared in four feature films: The Twonky in 1953, The Cobweb in 1955 (uncredited), Ransom! (aka Fearful Decision) in 1956 and The Young Captives in 1956. Here TV acting in the 1950s included the shows, episode title in (): Climax (The Day They Gave the Babies Away) in 1955, Dragnet (The Big Housemaid) in 1956. Lenore was also on MacDonald Carey's TV series Lock-up in or after 1959 (http://www.laradio.com/wherek.htm).(21) TV.com also lists that Lenore did an episode of The Donna Reed Showhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Donna_Reed_Show). which was on the air from 1959 to 1966 (
She also played Emily Vale, Margaret's friend, on Father Knows Best, a TV show which aired from 1954 to 1960 (http://www.tv.yahoo.com/lenore-kingston/contributor/585611;_ylt=AvFnfV3J17u4Ik_lXPsP_HGMv9EF).(22)
Sometime in the early to mid-1950s, Lenore had a TV show at KTTV called "Classified Column" which was sort of a televised classified ads show.(23) She was hired by Bob Purcell who was the Program Director at the time. Joe was a KTTV engineer at the time. Lenore and Joe would become close friends of the Purcells.
Lenore got Bob and his wife Jane interested in amateur radio. Lenore would have a daily sked with the Purcells over the air when they moved to New York. The Purcells had to dangle a fishpole out of their hotel which overlooked Central Park South to make contact and then reel it back in before hotel management spotted it.(24) The daily sked continued after the Purcells moved back to LA and eventually to Yucca Valley.
Bob Purcell left KTTV television for KFWB radio.(25) He would later bring Lenore over. She worked for KFWB radio from 1959 to 1962 (http://www.marinecorpsmars.com/CIV%20OPS/sk_jensen_lenore_misc.htm) (26) On the show Color Radio, Lenore was the Home Affairs Editor (http://www.marinecorpsmars.com/CIV%20OPS/sk_jensen_lenore_misc.htm). Lenore had a very popular show of her own that featured people trying to sell things, sort of a radio classified ads, called Purely Personal for three years on KFWB (http://www.marinecorpsmars.com/CIV%20OPS/sk_jensen_lenore_misc.htm). She helped people from all walks of life sell things. Cindy recalls selling her 24" Schwin bike over the show so she could get a larger one.(27)
In the late-1950s, Lenore attended Los Angeles City College (LACC) where she studied acting. Here she would meet Dick Ritterband, AA6BC who would become a lifelong friend.
Cindy recalled Lenore was a news junkie. (28) If she was not talking on the radio, on the phone or with someone in-person, she had the news on. She often clipped articles out of the newspaper and sent them to family and friends if she thought it might be something they would be interested in.
This is Your Life
Lenore had the surprise of her life on July 26, 1961. She was honored with a profile on the This is Your Life TV program. The TV program on from 1952 to 1961 and was sort of a televised surprise party (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Is_Your_Life). This surprise was masterminded by Bob Purcell who arranged for Lenore to be honored on this show in which a celebrity or someone who made extraordinary achievements. The guise was that Lenore was asked to bring her ham gear to the TV station and do a demonstration of ham radio on some other show. Jane Purcell, K6RGM recounts that Lenore was very excited about the demo. It was not easy to fool Lenore for she was very intuitive and very smart. But Bob Purcell, W6RGM, ran a very disciplined operation keeping everyone in line to keep the secret. Distracting Lenore with the demo was a very smart idea on Bob Purcell's part.
Lenore was astounded when the surprise was sprung. Host Ralph Edwards would recount their life before a national TV audience and bring out surprise guests. The show was sort of a televised scrap book of the subject's life and achievements in a half-hour TV format. She as honored for her good works during World War II when she founded a radio course for the American Women's Voluntary Services and for her early phone patching.
Ralph Edwards asked Lenore to demonstrate amateur radio for the audience and had Lenore's daily QSO partner, Dr. Elliot "Butch" Weyer, W2LLZ (sk) from New York City standing by. Butch's signal sounded different (Scipione, 1994:129). Then there was a tapping on her shoulder. It was Butch in person in the TV studio! Up until then, Lenore and Butch QSO'ed over CQ each day for 15 years but had never met in person. Bob Purcell arranged for hams from Japan whom Lenore kept skeds with to be flown in and surprise her too.
The show gave her a new station which she would put to good use in MARS and during the Great Alaska Earthquake.(29)(Scipione, 1994:116). The station consisted of a complete Collins S-Line with a 30L1 desktop 1kw amplifier (see pictures on this webpage). Steve Jensen, W6RHM, her step-son, recalls, the amp had four 811As as its finals.
Jane, K6RGM, recalls that for years to come, hams who met Lenore would say to her "Aren't you the ham that was on This is Your Life?" They would proceed to tell her, that her profile on the show inspired them to become a ham. The honor turned out to be more than just about Lenore, it was about providing inspiration. For many people, a This is Your Life profile was a rare honor they got after the fact. With Lenore, her prime was yet to come, both in her good deeds in ham radio, other venues and in acting.
1960s and 70s TV Acting and
Non-ham Good Deeds
The 60s were Lenore's most productive decade as a TV actress. She started the decade off with three episodes of Leave It to Beaver: Beaver's Big Contest in 1960, as Mrs. Bruce in The School Picture in 1961 and as Mrs. Whitney in - In the Soup in 1961. In her last episode of Leave it to Beaver, she played the mother of Whitey Whitney, who at the time was Beaver's best friend. Lenore went on to play Thelma Dunn in the "It's a Good Life" episode of The Twlight Zone in 1961.(30) In 1961 she did the "Clyde" episode of Wagon Train, playing Mrs. Sherman (http://www.fiftiesweb.com/wt/wagon-train-ep4.htm). On April 2, 1962, the "Danny and Bob Hope Getaway From It All" episode of The Danny Thomas Show Lenore did aired.(31)
Some time after its debut in 1963, Lenore also had a recurring role on General Hospital, as Mrs. Weeks, Eddie's mother.(32) As the back story goes, Lenore's role ended when the actor playing Eddie wanted more money. So the producers killed off Eddie. There was no need for an actress to play the role of a dead character. So Lenore was out of a job.(33)
Around fall 1964, a Sherman Oaks novice named Bob Burns, WN6KPR, was listening with his headphone on when he heard a signal so loud it made both him and his receiver jump. It was Lenore who lived above him with her 80ft. tower and 5 element monoband 20M beam. Bob investigated what was the source of this signal was and discovered is was not far from him. He met Lenore. Not only did the two of them become friends, so did their spouses. Bob Burns would become Lenore's closest ham radio collaborator, next to her husband.
In 1965 she started what would be two episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies, The Common Cold" episode where she was The Receptionist followed by the "Gloria Swanson" episode the next year. In 1966 she did an episode of The Munsters, called "Just Another Pretty Face." Then she did I Dream of Jeannie, playing Ethel in "Never Try to Outsmart a Jeannie" episode. Her 1966 Ben Casey episode was called "Weave Net Catches the Wind." Also in 1966, she played Miss Wilkins on My Three Sons' episode "Arriveducci Robbie."
Joe Conn, W2MSC's key went silent in 1965; due to leukemia.
On October 16, 1966, she married Bob Jensen, W6VGQ, whose wife Jan had recently died. Jane Purcell, K6RGM was her Bridesmaid. Bob had two children previously, Steve Jensen, W6RHM and Cindy Wall, KA7ITT.(35, 36)
In 1966 and 1967, Lenore guest starred on three episodes of Petticoat Junction. In the "Better Late Than Never" episode she played Gloria. In the "Only Boy in the Class" episode she was Mrs. Coberland. In her last episode on the show, Kate's Day in Court, she played The Prosecutor (http://pjboard.aimoo.com/Episode-Guides/Episode-Guide-Season-Five-1-5379.html).
Her guest star roles in 1967, episode name in (), include: Run for Your Life, ("Tell It Like It Is" as Arelene Wilinski), The Bold Ones: The New Doctors (as Mrs. Modic in Man Without a Heart) in 1969 and Ironside (as Carol Turner in Dora).
In 1970 IMDB.com listed three TV credits. These appearances were on Ironside (as the Maid in Tagged for Murder), in Love American Style (Love and the Hypnotist), and Adam-12 (as Mrs. Collins in Log 135: Arson). However, TV.com lists an additional TV credit - the show Shazam!, in its episode "A Different Drummer"which aired on Oct. 9, 1976 (http://www.tv.com/lenore-kingston/person/36934/summary.html).
Cindy recalls that one day sometime in the 1970s, Lenore was putting on her make-up and remarked - "I took a makeup class in college and I used to laugh when they would draw in all those lines to make someone look old. Look here, they got it exactly right."
Apparently Lenore was in a radio play called "And Baby Makes Four" in 1979 (Feb. 6, Sears Radio Network) (http://www.otrsite.com/logs/logs1039.htm).
Lenore's good deeds extended beyond ham radio. Since 1966 Lenore volunteered at Reading for the Blind, reading to blind people, serving in the Speaker's Bureau, recruiting volunteers and getting Bob to tape public service announcements with celebrities.(37) Lenore was also active in the Speaker's Bureau of the American Cancer Society, American Heart Assn., Reach-to-Recovery program and the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters. The American Heart Assn. gave Lenore several awards for the public service announcements she did for them. The Freedoms Foundation awarded her with the George Washington Honor Medal.
MARS Phone Patching During Vietnam
In this part of Lenore's biography, there are differences in accounts. We do not have the ability to resolve these differences. We can only report the differences.
As we stated earlier, Feb. 1986, QST (pp. 86), places the start date of Lenore's pre-MARS patching as 1955. MARS is the Military Affiliated Radio Service; hams and military radio operators who operate on military radio frequencies, near ham bands, making phone patches for service personnel. A phone patch is radio patched into phone lines. Paul Scipione, Ph.D., AA2AV, told us that said Lenore told him for his book MARS Calling Back to ‘The World' From Vietnam (1994), that Joe Conn and she started running phone patches for U.S. Air Force personnel stationed in remote bases such as Antarctic and Baffin Bay, Greenland Sometime in the late-1950s to as late as 1961 (pp. 116, 129). Bob Burns, N6ZH, who was Lenore's closest ham radio collaborator, next to her husband, Bob Jensen, W6VGQ, recalls Lenore ran patches of an Ice Station at the Northpole and rest and recreation military bases in German.(38) These patches were on the ham bands for this was prior to the Vietnam War and MARS. At some point prior to her involvement with MARS, Lenore ran a net for the USO (United Service Organization) in which service personnel get phone patches run to their families.(39)
Lenore also did emergency communications such as the Great Alaska Earthquake which occurred on March 27, 1964. The quake measured 9.2. It was the largest recorded quake in North America. Jeanne Brown, who had met Lenore a few years earlier, said Lenore was at her radio day and night for a week passing emergency traffic.
Military members stationed overseas had the same problem. They needed a timely and cost effective way to stay in-touch with their families when they were deployed overseas. The snail mail system took too long; 5-10 days (Scipione, 1994:116). Tim Stone, ex-WB6YCQ, when he was in the US Army, had a unique experience as a head MARS Radio Operator; he operated both in Vietnam and later stateside. Tim recalls that calling home from a telephone booth in Saigon, provided one was allowed to go to Saigon, cost about $25-$30 a minute. Just a 1 minute phone call back home was a significant part of a soldier's monthly pay.
Military Affiliated Radio Services (MARS) is a military-civilian radio network functioning on military radio frequencies outside the ham bands. Its purpose in Vietnam was to assist overseas military members to communicate with their families and loved ones. The way they accomplished their mission was through a circuit called a phone patch which linked the radio into the telephone system. A military member in the jungles of Vietnam, on a naval ship on the high seas, or anywhere else in the world, could be patched through a radio at their unit or a unit near them to their families back in the U.S.
A MARS phone patch was free. The only cost was a collect call charge the family had to accept from the ham's location. So the family could talk to their family member in Vietnam but the link between Vietnam and Lenore's house in Sherman Oaks was via radio, so there was no charge for that. The only charge they incurred was from Sherman Oaks to their location. In the words of Tom Boza, NE7X, formerly WA6NSH, AB8AZ, AB8AU, who was a MARS operator at the 9th Signal Battalion, 9th Infantry Division at Camp Bearcat, Saigon - "MARS was the solider's telephone company" (http://www.ne7x.com/web_pages/vietnam1968.html).
Most service personnel, with the permission of their commanding officer, could conceivably have used MARS to call home. However, MARS operators report that they rarely made phone patches for officers. It was mainly used by enlisted personnel.
Each military service had it own MARS program, networks, frequencies, operators and stations. A ham could apply for MARS membership and help service members call home.
There was some uncertainty as to how many years Lenore was in MARS. In Paul, AA2AV's book, he stated Lenore was active in MARS from 1965 to 1973 and after (Scipione, 1994:116, 123). Later Paul twice says 1966 to late-1972 as Lenore's dates of involvement in MARS (pp. 130-131). Some of this unclarity may be due to the fact that both of her husbands were also MARS operators. Shortly after the war started in 1965 she and her then husband Joe Conn, W2MSC joined MARS (pp. 116). However, not long after this Joe became a silent key. Lenore remarried in 1966; to Bob Jensen, W6VGQ who too would become a MARS operator.
Since they were operating outside the ham bands, they could not use their ham callsigns. They used MARS callsigns instead. Bob was A6VGQ. Lenore was A6NAZ.(39) Civilian MARS operators already had ham licenses, General class or above.
A military radio operator who was already a ham or studying to become one could be issued a MARS permit which enabled them to operate on MARS frequencies which are just outside the ham bands. In the Air Force, Navy and Marines, a MARS operator was a military occupational specialty (MOS). In the Army, there were no such MOS. Former military MARS operators report at field bases, they often had to lobby their superiors who did not see the value of calling home.(40) In some cases they had to scrounge equipment for their stations.
There was nothing like the reassurance of hearing a loved one's voice. Being able to speak to their families was of great emotional comfort for a service member. A MARS phone patch was a great morale booster. In some cases, the MARS phone patch was the last time the service member and his/her family communicated before one of them died; either the service member got killed in action or the family member died of disease or accident.
Dennis Vernacchia, N6KI, who was the MARS operator for the 101st Airborne Division, and later for U.S. Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) recalls having to explain to non-radio operators that a radio is unlike a telephone. One can not simply call out on the radio and talk to anywhere in the world at will. DX, long distance communication, is contingent on propagation, on sunspots which stimulate an opening in the ionosphere which allow a signal coming off of an antenna to bounce off the ionosphere to another antenna on the other side of the world. Propagation varies by 11 year cycles, time of day, and by bands. Propagation varies point-to-point. If the band is only open in southeast Asia, then a soldier will not be able to call home. If the band is open between southeast Asia and the Middle East, this too is not an opening that will facilitate communication home.
MARS operators listened to 20M and 15M for the band to be open enough to have patch quality conditions, a higher quality opening than what DXers find acceptable. The band opening had to be sufficient to allow an intelligible conversation between untrained individuals over SSB with QRM. The communication being facilitated is between two untrained parties, the service member and their family members. The general public finds SSB hard to understand even in the best of band conditions.
Also, one should add in loss of signal due to patching the radios on either end into the telephone system. In some cases, the soldiers were not in the MARS shack. They were radioing in via a field radio or field telephone which was audio coupled to the HF transmitter in Vietnam. Since this was the middle of a war, there was likely background noise from enemy fire, as well as helicopters flying in and out..... After one net finished, one of the MARS operators in Vietnam was killed by enemy fire (Hi-Desert Star, May 23, 1968).
Paul, AA2AV, points out that the height of the Vietnam war in 1969, in which American had the most number of troops 535,000 deployed, was also the height of a sunspot cycle. Paul says 20M was open in 1969 for 10-12hrs. a day. Since the sunspot cycles were in 11 year cycles, the minimum number of sunspots would have occurred in 1963-1964, and again in 1974-1975. The sunspot cycle was just starting to pick-up when MARS in Vietnam started. It peaked when the sunspot cycle peaked and waned when American troops pulled out.
Dennis, N6KI, MARS operator for the 101st Airborne Division was located 90 miles northeast of Saigon on the coast with the South China Sea, said tn 1968 to 1969, when he was based in Vietnam, his propagation window to the U.S. was from about 3pm to at best 3am local time. But sometimes the window closed as early as 1am. He estimates that in Los Angeles, Lenore's window was probably from about 5am to 5pm local time.
Signal Strength and Equipment
The public has another misconception that all it takes is good equipment to have long distance (DX) communication. The most important part of a station is having a good antenna in a good location; generally bigger and higher. Lenore was above the floor of the San Fernando Valley, as it started to slope upwards towards Mulholland Drive. LA is on the Pacific Coast which facilitates easier communication to Vietnam than the Midwest or east coast.
Her motorized tower gave her another 80ft. of elevation. Her 20 antenna was a Telerex 5 element long boomed 20 meter beam fed with ¾" Heliax. She also had a second yagi that covered 10M and 15M. Her rig was the Collins S-Line she was given by This is Your Life; which was widely regarded as the best equipment of the day. Steve estimates with the 4kw amp she apparently got at some point, antenna, its height, minus line losses to have given her an ERP of about 40kw. Lenore had one of the strongest signals of the civilian volunteer stations.
Her neighbor Bob Burns, WB6KPR, now N6ZH was on the Valley floor using a Log Periodic antenna. Lenore could communicate with stations he could not hear. But still Bob, N6ZH's signal was strong enough for him to be appointed one of the 5 Gateway Stations, along with Lenore, who could work any net in Vietnam.
At the coast of Los Angeles County, the most powerful station, in terms of signal strength, not necessarily transmitter output, in the history of amateur radio was Don Wallace's W6AM, which was on a former press wireless site overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Palos Verdes. A few miles down the coast from him was Fort MacArthur in San Pedro; where Tim Stone, ex-WB6YCQ was head operator. Ft. Mac also overlooked the ocean which helped propagate the signal. Ft. Mac's signal was to MARS as Don Wallace's signal was the 20M DX.
Senator Barry Goldwater, K7UGA, in Arizona, had a signal comparable to the Ft. Mac and Ft. Lewis signal for he also ran 5kw. Senator Goldwater's station was staffed by dozens of fulltime paid operators and volunteers. It was designated as a club station; the only club station. Dennis, N6KI was one of the paid operators. They ran 5kw into two towers. The tower with the log periodic was up 80ft. The second tower had antennas between 60ft. to 120ft. They made over 250,000 phone patches during the Vietnam War.
Operating on MARS
Lenore operated on SSB. She did not use RTTY.(41) Bob Burns N6ZH said he and Lenore would often run patches next to each other if there was only one frequency available.
20 meters was the favorite band of Lenore's but she would use 15 meters if 20 meters was not open. Paul, AA2AV (1994:46) published a 1972 Army MARS frequency list. At the high point of Army MARS in Vietnam, there were 7 nets.(42) Each net had different frequencies.(43) They were off the high and low ends of the amateur radio bands. Lenore was in Net 5.
The 20 meter frequency for Net 5 was 14.405. Of the 20M frequencies assigned to the nets, 14.405 is the closest one to the top of 20M but it is 55kc above the upper limit of the 20M ham band at 14.350mhz. The highest frequency was 14.495 which was assigned to Net 7.
The 15 meter frequency for Net 5 was 20.815. The 15 meter amateur band starts at 21.000mhz; 185kc above Net 5's frequency. Net 2 was further away at 20.520; -480kc. It is not really accurate to say the MARS frequencies were just off the ham bands. Being 480kc away presents a bandwidth problem for most antennas. Some receivers may lose sensitivity being half-a-megahertz away from where it was designed to be.
The Process of Making Patches
The process of making a phone patch started with a service member wanting to call home. If they were stationed at a larger unit, they might have had a MARS station already there. If they did not have a MARS station they needed a radio to make a field phone call or go in person to a unit with a MARS station.(44, 45, 46) Once they got to the MARS station, they may have had to wait or come back when there was propagation to the states. It was not necessary to find have a band opening into the service member's home town or home states.(47) Often there was a list of service members who wanted to call home.(48)
The MARS operator in Vietnam would call a MARS operator in the U.S.(49) 20M or 15M was used for the Trans-Pacific link. 40M was used by MARS station for in-country communication.
For the Vietnam part of the link, all the radio operators were in the military. Stateside the radio operators were civilian volunteers like Lenore and Bob Jensen, Bob Burns, the Purcells, or they could also be military operators.
Tim explains the process in making a patch. First the band would have to be open to patch quality conditions. Then a MARS operator, like Lenore would call the MARS station in Vietnam for a "Listing" of service members who wanted to make a call, to whom and what phone number. Lenore would then get a telephone company operator on her home phone line and have the collect call placed. Once the charge was accepted and the family member was on the line, Lenore would instruct the family member that only one person could talk at a time and they had to say "over" when they were finished talking and not start talking until after the service member said "over." Then Lenore would call Vietnam for the service member to come on line. The call then proceeded.
There were 7 nets which covered Vietnam. Each net had seven stations. Lenore and Bob Jensen and Bob Burns were in Net 5. Bob worked in the early morning hours to late morning so he came home and relieved Lenore so she could eat lunch. After lunch, they split up the calls on Net 5 or Bob would go off to another net.
Paul, AA2AV explained the net operation to us. He said that within a net, a single stateside station had 4-6 Vietnam based stations waiting on it. A Vietnam based station would get 3 phone patches. Then the next station would get three until it rotated back to the first Vietnam station. If a GI was not one of the first 3, s/he might be in for a 45-60 minute wait.
Lenore would use 2M as an intercom with her Bob Burns, N6ZH to coordinate the net. Bob, whose MARS callsign was AL6KPR, was also her neighbor in the Sherman Oaks neighborhood of the San Fernando Valley suburbs of Los Angeles.
The rest of the time was probably spent waiting for the band to open and queuing up the collect telephone call with the telephone company operator. Lenore would break for dinner when her husband Bob came home from work; he would take over making phone patches from Lenore (Scipione, 1994:130). She would then make dinner. When they ate, they turned the net over to Bob Burns, N6ZH by calling out "1-2" on their HF working frequency. After she and her husband Bob ate, they would take the net back, calling out "1-2." (50)
Paul, AA2AV, explains that it took about 5 mins. to make a 3 min. phone patch. The call between the service member and the family member took about 3 mins. The other two mins. were spent queuing up the call.
The regular civilian MARS operators like Lenore had operators which they worked with daily. Working on MARS phone patches was a coveted assignment for a Long Distance Operator.(51) The contribution of the telephone company's operators has probably been under-acknowledged in the making of MARS phone patches during the Vietnam War. An inexperienced phone company operator would slow down the process.
An experienced phone company operator would call the next family and prep the family, while the current call was on the air. She, it was usually a she, needed to explain to the family that over radio, only one person could talk at a time, and that must say over when they were done in order to hear the service member. A good phone company operator would have 2-3 calls lined up waiting for their turn so there was no down time.
Lenore and Bob, N6ZH had 7 specially operators assigned to them. Bob, N6ZH recalled "as soon as we dialed "O", it set off a signal and one of them would immediately greet us with "Hi Lenore or Bob, what's doing today."
Volume: How Many Patches?
It is highly unfortunate but there are inconsistencies amongst accounts of how many phone patches Lenore made during the Vietnam War for MARS. Also there are no records of her non-MARS patches. Published sources report a figures ranging from 30,000 to 68,000. The question of how many phone patches Lenore ran during Vietnam will probably never be satisfactorily settled. All we can do, 15 years after her passing, is summarize the contradictory sources of information on our MARS page on this website.
Content and Emotion
The NBC employee newsletter Newsline (no date), reported that a third of the calls Lenore made were from wounded servicemen in hospitals. In one phone patch, Lenore told Newsline that a serviceman was about to go into surgery in which his arm had to be amputated. He was afraid and wanted to talk to his mother. Lenore called the mother and prepared her by asking her to be reassuring rather than teary. The mother did as Lenore suggested and helped her son be less afraid. Other calls were from servicemen telling their families they were coming home. Some calls were from servicemen arranging to meet their families in Hawaii on their 6 day leaves.
Lenore told Paul, AA2AV that "I can remember having my heart broken a thousand times and more as I listened to those patches. It wasn't just the words, it was also the emotions that were seldom spoken but you could feel them anyway. War is a terrible thing. Bob and I just did our best to use our skills as radio amateurs to help bring the boys and their families back together for a few minutes. Maybe our patches alleviated some pain and helped them survive" (Scipione, 1994:123).
When she appeared on the TV program Intelligent Parent (KCOP, Los Angeles), date unknown, mid-to late-1970s, Lenore played excerpts from actual phone patches and she and MARS Operators SGT Larry McAbee, AA6WAH from, Ft. Mac and Bob Hicks, former operator at Ft. Hood, TX, AA5WAB, as well as telephone company operator Cindy Mattson acted out a phone patch (Scipione, 1994:131). (52) Lenore said the phone calls to KCOP from viewers afterwards indicated the show produced a strong emotional response from the TV audience.
Paul, AA2AV, wrote about an audio tape he has of Lenore making phone patches that I "am deeply touched by the great sensitivity she showed to both the family members at home and the MARS operator in Vietnam" (1994:130).
MARS operators became close as they were working together daily in an intense situation. The Vietnam and stateside MARS operators would talk amongst themselves to hold the frequency open as they waited for a sufficient band opening. Lenore was a surrogate mother figure to these young men in Vietnam. Lenore, and also Jane Purcell, K6RGM, became a surrogate mother to them (Scipione, 1994:130). Lenore and Jane would often bake cookies for the Vietnam based MARS operators I their respective nets. "The Boys" would write back and share things they could not on the air and send pictures of themselves. The Geisha doll in the first picture of Lenore, above and to the right of her S-Line is a gift from one of the Vietnam based MARS operators (see photo on this website). When the Boys got home, they often stopped by in LA to visit Lenore and/or drive out to Yucca Valley to see Jane and Bob Purcell.
Lenore gave her Collins S-Line and amplifier a good workout every day. Steve remembers that the Collins Radio Company, wrote Lenore that she was the only person they knew of who wore out a T/R switch (a switch which is thrown to turn off the transmitter after the serviceman has spoken, so that they may receive their family member).(53)
There is some uncertainty if at some point in the Lenore got a Henry 4K floor model 4kw HF amplifier to replace the Collins 1kw desktop amplifier. (54)
Of course running that much power requires attention to TVI prevention. Cindy recalls Lenore tried not to make phone patches during prime time TV. Steve recalled that Lenore's neighbor in the house above her, could hear her through his stereo when the stereo was turned off! Steve recalls "RF was getting picked up by their speaker leads and getting rectified in the output transistors acting as diodes with their power supply off. We ended up putting some type 43 toroids on their speaker leads and fixed that."
Our club, SFVARC, had a line item budget to help financially support Bob and Lenore's phone patch expense. But they never took any money saying it was something they wanted to do and they would pay for it themselves. The MARS calls were made collect to the service member's families. Of course it was not just the long distance expense they must have had. Running a 4kw amplifier 5-7hrs. a day everyday of the week must have consumed a lot of electricity; which in those days was considerably cheaper than it is now. Setting up and maintaining a station capable of running 4kw must also have been a great expense. Lenore also had an additional phone line installed just for phone patches.
Other MARS Activities
Lenore always shared what she was into, at the time, with her friends. She recruited, the Purcells, Bob, W6RGM/A6RGM (sk) and Jane, K6RGM/AA6RGM. (55) Jane and Bob operated a key MARS station from Yucca Valley CA. They became key MARS operators in their own right, in Net 5 running phone patches for the stations in the Saigon Area of Vietnam (Hi-Desert Star, May 23, 1968). Jane soon became known as "Momma Jane" for not only phone patching but for baking cookies for the operators in Net 5 (Hi-Desert Star, May 23, 1968).
Lenore also, as earlier noted, recruited her neighbor Bob Burns, N6ZH, who became Lenore's Assistant Net Control Station, and husbands Joe Conn, W2MSC (sk) and Bob Jensen, W6VGQ (sk). There are likely more MARS operators who were recruited by Lenore. We have not found them.
Steve recalls that U.S. Air Force General Curtis LeMay, who was himself a ham, wrote Lenore a thank you letter for her phone patches for U.S. Air Force personnel. The MARS operators found it gratifying that they received postcards and letters from service personnel and their families thanking them for the phone patch. There were many times that the phone patch was the last communication before the service member died in combat or the family member died.
More Good Ham Radio Deeds
The post-MARS period is perhaps what most people knew Lenore for. Lee Craner, WB6SSW, recalls - "I met Lenore on several occasions over the years. She was so active that it was hard not be involved in ham radio in Southern Cal during the 70's and 80's and not run into her." Lenore and Bob seemed to be everywhere in ham radio in LA (and beyond) in this period.
As an actress Lenore knew celebrities and media executives, which she enlisted to help ham radio do public service announcements (PSA) (Amateur Radio Newsline, May 18, 1993). Lenore also made PSAs for the American Cancer Assn. from the late-1970s through the 1980s; working with celebrities like Bob Hope and Dick Van Dyke. She also got Bob Hope, Dick Van Dyke, Lorne Green, Bill Bixby and others to do PSA for ham radio.(56)
She had a column in World Radio News called "Who's Who in Amateur Radio." She profiled hams. Lenore was interested in showing a link between being a ham and success in their career (QST, Dec. 1987). She later said Jay Holladay, W6EJJ, ARRL VP and NBC News reporter Roy Neal, K6DUE where the most interesting people she interviewed (QST, Dec. 1987).(57) In this period, ham radio publicist and journalist was added to Lenore's biography.
In the late-1970s to the early-1980s she anchored Weslink, Amateur Radio Newsline's predecessor several times (Amateur Radio Newsline, May 18, 1993). Bill Pasternak, WA6ITF recalled Lenroe recorded her segments on Berlant Concertone reel-to-reel tape recorders.
Lenore was also an ARRL Public Relations Assistant when Jay Holladay, W6EJJ was Southwest Division Director in the late-1970s. To facilitate the purpose of generating positive publicity for amateur radio, Lenore started a public relations net on 2 meters. Joe, K0OV and April Moell, WA6OPS from Orange County took part in that net. Each week they, and others, checked in and reported the efforts to promote ham radio and discussed how to do more.
Joe, K0OV and April Moell, WA6OPS were good friends of Bob and Lenore. The Jensens came to Orange County to support their friends, the Moells, at St. Jude Hospital and Rehabilitation Center where April has a rehabilitation program using amateur radio (http://www.qsl.net/wa6ops/rehab.html). April set up a ham club at St. Jude, WD6BPT. Bob gave his presentation "Marconi to the Hollywood Squares" to the St. Jude club. The Moells also took part in a ham demo Lenore helped set up at Knott's Berry Farm.
It was in this time period, the mid-1970s that I first met Lenore (see my Lenore stories near the top of this webpage).
Here is a link to a video of Lenore interviewing scientist at the Goldstone Satellite Tracking Station about the Viking Mars space mission in 1976 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xb7r3_n1wBo.
In 1977, Lenore did an amateur radio demonstration called "Operation Santa Claus" at the Los Angeles Orthopedic Hospital. In a photo on one of the photo pages on this website of Lenore putting young patients on the air.(58)
In September 1978 she penned an article for QST, "Ask Not What Amateur Radio Can Do for You" (pp. 45). The article has suggestions on how to do public relations. The title of this article is a variation of a phrase made famous by President Kennedy. Lenore's choice of this phrase tells of her philosophy that amateur radio is about public service.(59)
In 1978, Lenore appeared on a radio series on KISS - Radio (Los Angeles, AM, 1150) called "Introduction to Amateur Radio" which was hosted and produced by talk show host Don Elliott, N6IFR (http://jplarc.ampr.org/calling/1978/sep/sep78.html).
In 1979, she was in Dave Bell's ham radio promotional film - World of Amateur Radio.
Starting in the late-1970s, Lenore and both Bobs participated in the Los Angeles Police Department's (LAPD) Amateur Radio Emergency Support Team (AREST). AREST was a predecessor to Hamwatch. Hams helped the police do surveillance using ham radio. The hams watched from rooftops and radioed suspicious behavior to a nearby patrol car that was assigned to the rooftop ham surveillance teams.
Lee Craner, WB6SSW, recalls doing stakeouts in Hollywood, LAX and Westwood with Bob and Lenore, and providing communications support for the Hollywood Christmas Parade. Bob Burns, N6ZH went on to become a LAPD Reserve Specialist Officer. They were supervised by LAPD Officer Frank Penninato, WB6ELR.(60)
Sometime after the amateur radio station was set up in 1979 on the retired ocean liner Queen Mary, the station's founder, Nat Brightman, K6OSC of the Associated Radio Amateurs of Long Beach, W6RO, came to speak about the station at SFVARC. There he met Bob and Lenore. Bob and Lenore volunteered to take a 4hr. operating shift on the station once a month. Lenore combined the trip to Long Beach with her monthly visit to see her mother in nearby Seal Beach. Lenore wrote several articles about the Queen Mary ham station. There is a photo on one of the photo pages on this website of Bob and Lenore, and Bob Burns operating W6RO in their Queen Mary Radio Officers' uniforms.
Cindy had a standing 20 meter QSO from Oregon with Bob and Lenore when they operated from the Queen Mary. Cindy still has a QSL from a W6RO Lenore signed dated Oct. 4, 1985, which is also on this website. On that occasion, Lenore used W6RO's Yaesu FT-20R. Sometimes they would all dine on the Queen Mary.
Lenore operated CW, ragchewing after her MARS period (Scipione, 1994:129). She appreciated the intimacy of CW (Scipione, 1994:129).
Lenore was our club's representative to the LA Area Council of Amateur Radio Clubs starting in at least the late-1970s, if not earlier. This was a perfect job for Lenore since she knew everyone. Chuck Lobb, KN6H was the Chairman during one of those years. Chuck recalls Lenore set up a speakers bureau for the clubs in LA; to assist them with finding speakers for their club meetings. Bob was an in demand speaker at club meetings in Southern California and beyond. The Council had some 40 ham clubs as its members and met at the old Red Cross Hq. in mid-town LA.
Chuck recalls being on Ray Briem, N6FFT's radio talk-show on KABC in the early-1980s with Lenore. Each year Ray devoted an entire show of ham radio. Lenore was one of his usual guests. One year she brought Chuck with her. Chuck says he "never had such fun!" He could not sleep that night due to the excitement. On another appearance on Ray Breim's show Lenore was with ARRL's Fried Heyn, WA6WZO and Weslink's Bill Pasternak, WA6ITF.
In June 1980 Lenore wrote another article for QST, "California Hams Assist During Mud/Flood Crisis." This was about amateur radios response to mudslides in the Hollywood Hills.
Sometime prior to January 1981, Lenore took part in an Amateur Radio Emergency Service demonstration at Earthquake Awareness weekend with Bob Burns, N6ZH, Leonard Drayton, WA6LAU, Norm Friedman, W6ORD, Ted Lisiecki, WB6BSA, Dave Tucker, WB6FAK, Mel Borses, WB6VHS. Bob Jensen's photo of the event ran in WorldRadio in January 1981.
In 1983, Lenore won a special achievement award at the Dayton Hamfest from the Dayton Amateur Radio Assn. (http://geocities.com/w8jyz/w6naz.pdf; QST, Dec. 1987). Later for the 1991 Special Achievement Award, she nominated Nat Brightman, K6OSC for founding the Queen Mary Amateur Radio Station. Nat received the award.
In 1984 Lenore worked with Chuck and others who organized ham radio to support the 1984 Olympics here in LA (QST, Nov. 1984).
Bob passed away on Sept. 8, 1987. He was 75 having been born on Jan. 8, 1912; the year before Lenore. (http://www.marinecorpsmars.com/CIV%20OPS/sk_jensen_Bob_usac.htm). Ralph Edwards wrote a poem "Our Bob was Mr. Fix-it...Big Bob's the one who licks it." For more of the poem, see: (http://www.marinecorpsmars.com/CIV%20OPS/sk_jensen_bob_in_tribute.htm). Variety's Sept. 18, 1987 obituary of Bob gave a general overview of Bob's life (http://www.marinecorpsmars.com/CIV%20OPS/sk_jensen_bob_variety.htm). WorldRadio's obit gave more details of Bob's ham influences and his engineering career (http://www.marinecorpsmars.com/CIV%20OPS/sk_jensen_bob_worldradio.htm).
QST turned the tables on Lenore in Dec. 1987 and did a profile of her; written by Paula Place, N1DNB. At the time, Lenore was writing a column World Radio in which she profiled hams.
Fried Heyn, WA6WZO, the then ARRL Southwest Division Director, was to speak at the 50 Club on August 17, 1989. This was an amateur radio club which started off as an exclusive group of 50 hams, most of them living on the affluent Westside of Los Angeles. Lenore was a member even though she lived over the hill in the San Fernando Valley. For the August 17, 1989 meeting, Lenore's dear friend Dick Ritterband, AA6BC had an idea. He surprised Lenore by showing a video of her This is Your Life episode. Fried was happy to provide the cover story to get unsuspecting Lenore to the 50 Club meeting. Lenore was one of Fried's long serving ARRL Southwest Division Assistant Directors. Lenore was surprised by This is Your Life twice.
ARRL Southwest Division Vice Director Art Goddard, W6XD credits Lenore for helping him win election in 1991. Lenore came up with the phonetic W6 Xellent Director. No one ran against Art. Art later became Director.
"Inside Amateur Radio" and The End
Lenore's book, Inside Amateur Radio was finished before she left us in 1993.(61) It is a collection of ham radio stories. It was published in 1995 by WorldRadio, who publish the ham radio news magazine of the same name (http://www.wr6wr.com/newSite/products/books/iar.html). Lenore was a columnist for them. Cindy had found the publisher after Lenore passed.
The book is 91 pages long. Each page contains about 1.5 stories. The stores are organized into five chapters: Disaster and emergencies, phone patches, wartime, medical assistance and personal anecdotes. QST gave Lenore's book a glowing book review (Aug. 1995:119). Lenore apparently promoted the book as she was collecting stories. One of the stories in the book involved some of her SFVARC club mates. Bill, WB6EDE, a Life Member of SFVARC (Hall of Famer) went through Lenore's book and found 13 current and former SFVARC members contributed stories; about 1:5 stories.
On his motorcycle rides with a friend through the Angeles National Forrest, north of LA, John Sherwood, WA6YQT would check in via ham radio to his fiancé Eva Olip, WA6YQT. After not checking in for a long time, John radioed that he and his friend were in heavy snow and fog in an area with 200ft. drops. Bill Holladay, WB6EDE, a friend of theirs from SFVARC phone patched the Montrose Search and Rescue Squad. Ed Khoury, WB6NHO, a friend of theirs from the LAPD Van Nuys Division Hamwatch, drove Eva up to meet the search team. Ed stayed at the base camp providing a communications link to the outside world while Eva went with the rescue squad. John radioed that he was feeling ill from the cold and Bill, WB6EDE, patched him to a Red Cross Disaster Nurse who gave him survival instructions until he was rescued. KMPC Talk Show Host Bill Pearl, ex-WB6UYW, had been monitoring the rescue on 2 meters. Lenore helped arrange for her club mates to go on Bill's show. This rescue later became a story in her book called "Lost in the Fog" (pp. 17).
Also on Bill Pearl's show that day was Adrienne Sherwood, WA6YEO. She and her husband are in the last story in the book, page 91. At one of our club meetings, Bill, WB6EDE called for volunteers to provide public service communications for the Special Olympics. Adrienne volunteered but did not have the required 2M HT. Dan Sherwood, WA6PZK offered to loan her his. This started a relationship that resulted in marriage. Lenore and Bob were guests at their 1980 wedding. Adrienne went on to become our club President.
Lenore had been patiently collecting stories for years; as early as 1987, if not earlier (QST, Dec. 1987). She called the book a work of love for all the years ham radio gave her "wonderful experiences" (QST, Dec. 1987). Bob Reitzel, KD6DA's story on pages 14-15 says Lenore solicited a story from him by coming and speaking to the Anaheim Amateur Radio Assn. He recalls Lenore was persistent in getting him to write his story passing a family medical emergency message.
One of the most dramatic stories in the book involved another SFVARC clubmate Jack Chapman, W6DQE (sk)(pp. 40). Jack and family were living in Manila when WWII broke out. They were captured by the Japanese and imprisoned. Jack and the other hams asked the Japanese if they could build a public address system so they could put on shows. Under-guard, they took Jack home so he could get parts. Jack got a few "spare parts," enough for him and the other hams to build a transmitter which they hid. When MacArthur landed, they radioed for help for the Japanese were going to kill the prisoners. American tanks liberated the camp before they could be harmed. Later Jack would become an audio engineer on the children's TV show "Dusty's Treehouse." Jack and Lenore knew each other from show business and from SFVARC (see picture on this website).
In Lenore's final years, Dick Ritterband, AA6BC, her neighbor and friend took very good care of her, going to her house daily and helping her with chores and running errands. Lenore's key went silent in at age 79 on May 5, 1993, due to cancer. She was on the planet from Oct. 4, 1913 to May 5, 1993 (Amateur Radio Newsline, May 18, 1993). Her friend since the 1960s, Jeanne Brown tells that she died just as she was finishing editing an issue of the Pacific Pioneer Broadcasters' newsletter. Lenore went while serving others.
I was a junior high school student and new ham when I met Bob and Lenore in the mid-1970s. It has only been in more recent decades that I came to realize Bob's role as I have matured. It takes a very secure man to support a woman as dynamic and public as Lenore. Bob taught me more than just about ham radio. By example he taught me about manhood. Bob's key role in Lenore's success needs to be understood and appreciated!
I would say the greatest thing I learned from Lenore was community activism. Lenore did the right thing. She saw something wrong and took action. She did not wait to be "empowered" by government bureaucrats or some ham radio politician. She got things done, like helping a group of teenage novices replace the stolen radio. In 2007 when the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) started issuing new and replacement ham callsign license plates with a space in the callsign, i.e. WW6 CC, I launched a grassroots letter writing and petition drive, see: www.NoSpaceHamPlates.blogspot.com. I knew we would win, and we did, because Lenore showed us the way!
After winning the Jensen award, I wrote an article for my clubmates in our club's newsletter, The Carrier (Jan. 2008), to tell them about their late clubmates Bob and Lenore. I am one of the few club members left who knew Bob and Lenore.(62, 63)
I then nominated Lenore for the CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame.(64) CQ says of its award:
The CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame was established in January, 2001, to recognize those individuals, whether licensed radio amateurs or not, who significantly affected the course of amateur radio; and radio amateurs who, in the course of their professional lives, had a significant impact on their professions or on world affairs (http://www.cq-amateur-radio.com/hrhof.html). The activities and accomplishments that qualify one for membership in these elite groups involve considerable personal sacrifice and can usually be described by the phrase "above and beyond the call of duty" (http://www.cq-amateur-radio.com/infoc.html).
At the Dayton Hamfest in May 2008, Lenore's induction into the CQ Hall of Fame was announced (www.cq-amateur-radio.com/Hall%20of%20Fame%20July%2008.pdf; ARRL Letter, May 23, 2008).(64) Lenore was a pioneer on this list of 2008 inductees - as the only woman. There have been only 4 women inductees. (65, 66)
After her death, she continued to be of service. She requested no flowers but that donations be made instead to the ARRL Foundation, Recording for the Blind or the American Cancer Assn. (Amateur Radio Newsline, May 18, 1993). Her station was donated to the Arcadia High School Amateur Radio Club, KD7LAC in Phoenix, AZ. (67, 68)
Lenore told QST, (Dec. 1987) that she would like to be remembered for her public relations effort to promote amateur radio and for being a courteous operator. She found doing phone patching for GIs during Vietnam to be the most personal satisfying part of her ham career QST, (Dec. 1987). When asked what she got out of ham radio Lenore replied - "48 years of great happiness! Untold benefits, especially hundreds of longtime friends whom I've enjoyed meeting on the air and via clubs. Most important two marvelous husbands, the late W2MSC and W6VGQ." In closing, Lenore said "I like the way hams are capable of "instant friendship" when they meet another licensee. My hope is that those who have been on the air a long time will welcome newcomers and pass on the traditions."
1. I shared this honor with my clubmates Richard Donner, WA6YKR, and Phil Reiber, KJ6ZI.
2. Bob's club mates and friends are very proud of him for being selected for this honor. The Apollo Moon Mission created many technical precedents.
3. The Hollywood Squares was a very popular longstanding TV game show on the NBC TV network. The set as a three story tick-tac-toe board. In each of the 9 squares, there was a celebrity seated in it. The two contestants sat on each side of the host as they took turns playing the game. When a contestant called upon a star, the celebrity would say something witty. It was a technical challenge to light, photograph and mic all 9 celebrities at the same time while doing the same for the 2 contestants and host.
4. Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy's movies are: Woman of the Year, 1940; Adam's Rib, 1949; Pat and Mike, 1952; Desk Set, 1957; Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, 1967.
5. This story was told to me by Cindy Wall, KA7ITT, Lenore's step-daughter.
6. There is inconsistency in reports on Lenore's birthday. There is agreement it was in Oct. 1913 but the day has been placed as the 4th, 13th or 14th. Her stepchildren Cindy Wall, KA7ITT and Steve Jensen, W6RHM, with her friend since the early-1960s Jeanne Brown in concurrence say Oct. 4, 1913 is the correct birthday.
7. This story was also told to me by Cindy Wall, KA7ITT, Lenore's step-daughter.
8. It is uncertain when exactly Lenore was on this soap. The soap was based on a comic strip.
9. Documentation of credits is often incomplete in this era, not just for Lenore, but across the industry.
10. There are differing spellings of "June Daly" or "June Daily."
11. Ralph Edwards was one of the announcers on Against the Storm.
12. In reference to Mid Stream, there is discrepancy as to the character or characters Lenore played, Meredith Conway and/or Jimmy Storey.
13. Against the Storm and Mid Stream where NBC shows. Affairs of Anthony was a Blue Network show.
14. Ma Perkins ran for over 25 years and had 7,065 broadcasts starting Dec. 4, 1943 on NBC. It is uncertain how many of those episodes Lenore was on. The sponsor of this show was Oxydol Soap, for whom the term "soap opera" was coined.
15. A question has been raised if Lenore was on Ma Perkins which was reported by Marine Corp MARS.com (http://www.marinecorpsmars.com/CIV%20OPS/sk_jensen_lenore_usac.htm). She is not listed in the Big Book of Broadcasting's entry for this show. As noted earlier, there are bound to be inaccuracies in Lenore's list of credits due to the fact that documentation from those days is at best incomplete and sometimes inaccurate. Please also note, we report these other biographical details as a matter of courtesy. This tribute is first and foremost about Lenore and her passion for amateur radio. We do not want to be diverted from this focus.
16. Cindy Wall, KA7ITT, Lenore's step-daughter reports she told the Internet Movie Database, IMDB.com that Lenore was not married to radio actor Les Tremayne. Lenore's long-time friend Jeanne Brown verifies this. IMDB then put a question mark by this information.
17. QST May 1940 (pp. 23) reported the title as "Chairmen."
18. It is unusual that QST, a magazine about ham radio would report on someone's other hobbies.
19. This was an important accomplishment was cited as a main reason Lenore was honored by the TV show This is Your Life in 1961. However there is little information on this accomplishment or the organization itself.
20. If you have one of these QSL cards, please scan it into a .jpeg file and email to Cliff, AC6C - at email address: AC6C --at-ARRL ---dot--- net
20a. Not much is known about Joe Conn.
21. The original air date is unknown.
22. It is unknown how many episodes Lenore appeared in, the name of those episodes and when they aired first.
23. Source: Jane Purcell, Bob Purcell's widow and a letter Lenore wrote to Bob to wish him happy 75th birthday.
24. A related story is recounted in Lenore's 1995 book, Inside Amateur Radio, on page 72.
25.. KFWB in those days was a music station. Not the all-news station it is today.
26. "FWB" is a suffix which reoccurred in Lenore's life. Lenore's friend Ethel Smith, W7FWB started YLRL QST (May 1940:23). Lenore was later employed by KFWB news radio in Los Angeles.
27. This episode occurred before Lenore married Cindy's father Bob Jensen.
28. As Cindy recounted in her eulogy at Lenore's funeral.
29. There are hams who said the Collins S-line was donated by the Collins Radio Co. Wayne Spring, W6IRD, a retired Collins Engineer, who in retirement is very much involved in Collins equipment restoration doubts Collins donated the equipment. Collins policy was not to set a precedent of donating equipment for there were too many worthy causes. At best he thinks a discount might have been arranged and free servicing at its Newport Beach, CA Service Center.
30. The episode first aired on Nov. 3, 1961.
31. This appearance did not appear on listings of her credits on the internet but was instead discovered after a search of the holdings of the Museum of TV and Radio in Beverly Hills, CA.
32. There is uncertainty how many seasons she appeared on General Hospital; several apparently.
33. There were no credits found for 1964.
35. Cindy is a well-known ham in her own right (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cynthia_Wall). She is listed on Kathy Schaffstein, WA6FAH's Famous Hams List http://users.tellurian.com/gjurrens/WA6FAH.html Cindy has written 6 children's book with ham radio themes: Night Signals (1989), Hostage in the Woods (1990), Firewatch, Easy Target (1994), Disappearing Act (1996), A Spark to the Past (1998). See Cindy's book's on Steve's website: http://www.stevejensenconsultants.com/cindys_books.html. For a review on eHam see: http://www.eham.net/reviews/detail/1479. These books are along the lines of the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drews books for young people. Also see ARRL's catalog: http://www.arrl.org/catalog/?category=History%2FAdventure
36. Steve is a consulting electrical engineer living in Redlands, CA. Please visit his website: www.stevejensenconsultants.com. Steve's novice story can be found on the Novice Historical Society's website, www.Novice.bappy.com. Steve's novice photo and an excerpt from his story appears in the Fall 2008 issue of the QCWA Journal's Novice History Series written by Cliff Cheng, Ph.D., AC6C.
37. "Reading for the Blind" is now called "Reading for the Blind and Dyslexic."
37. Bob Burns, N6ZH is an accomplished ham in his own right. Bob lived in Sherman Oaks, down the hill from Lenore. Bob recalls, he first heard Lenore when he was a novice hunched over his receiver with his headphone. Lenore came on the band and made both him and his receiver jump in the air! They had a QSO and later met. Bob who was a Disney model maker at the time, and his wife, actress Naomi Stevens, became best friends with the Jensens.
Bob would go on to become Communications Chair of the Greater Los Angeles Red Cross, ARRL Section Emergency Coordinator. He spent his own money and bought a used postal truck which he converted into a communications van. He later donated it to the LA County Sheriffs Department Disaster Communication Service. Bob was also a founding member of AREST (Amateur Radio Emergency Service Team) which assisted LAPD (Los Angeles Police Dept.) by doing surveillance. Bob became a LAPD Reserve Specialist.
38. Paul, AA2AV did not make reference to the USO Net (Scipione, 1994:116). Lenore's MARS Assistant Net Control Station Bob Burns, N6ZH recalled Lenore operated a USO net before she recruited him to help her in MARS in 1968.
39. Ham callsigns were not used on MARS frequencies. MARS is not ham radio! MARS frequencies were near ham bands. Lenore's Army MARS callsign was A6NAZ. A certificate presented to her for her good works by ARMY MARS verifies this. Her callsign has been inaccurately reported elsewhere as AA6NAZ (http://www.marinecorpsmars.com/CIV%20OPS/sk_jensen_lenore_usac.htm). Please note that the present MARS callsign allocation differ than what was used in the Vietnam War era.
39. Dennis Vernacchia, N6KI who was then AB8AY at the 101 Airborne Division had a First Sgt. Who disliked Dennis temporary assignment to what is considered a "candy ass" job, operating a radio (Scipione, 1994:71). Had it not been for a Colonel, Dennis ran a phone patch for, Dennis would have been reassigned and the approximately 5,000 to 6,0000 phone patches over a 1 year period from May 1968 to May 1969. Dennis estimates about 30-40% of the 1,000 soldiers assigned to the base camp he was stationed, LZ Betty, Phat Thiet, Vietnam, used his services.
41. Steve Jensen, W6RHM said that Lenore did not even have a teletype machine and terminal unit. Bob Burns, N6ZH concurred.
42. The frequency list is from 1971 and contains frequencies for Nets 5, 6 and 7. Paul, AA2AV (1994:46) notes these nets were merged or closed in late-1971 due to troop withdrawal. Nevertheless he still listed these frequencies for the closed nets.
43. There were separate in-country SSB frequencies, and another set of frequencies for RTTY.
44. Permission of their commander to physically go to another unit might have been necessary.
45. 101st Airborne Division's MARS operator Dennis Vernacchia, N6KI, recalls that after 1am, there were few soldiers how wanted phone patches. They needed to try to sleep instead; in spite of the nightly mortar attacks. Even if Dennis had propagation for a few more hours he had few customers.
46. The Army helicopter repair ship USNS Corpus Christi Bay (CC Bay) had a main MARS station board. The CC Bay was anchored off the mouth of the Saigon River in Cam Rhan Bay, near Vung Tau, and had one of the strongest signal of the MARS stations in Vietnam, as it head MARS operator Tim Stone, ex-WB6YCQ. The CC Bay had a microwave link to the medivac base at Vung Tau which enabled it to make phone calls home for soldiers who were just wounded. At this point the signal was down linked to HF, 20M usually. Up until this point, the signal has been handled by active duty military radio operators in Vietnam.
47. Propagation into the service member's home state or even home town this would have been preferable for it would have reduced long distance phone charges.
48. Some service members did not understand that they had to wait for propagation.
49. MARS operator like Dennis, N6KI, did not for instance call CQ New Orleans, if that is where the service member wanted to talk to. MARS is not ham radio. They would instead say something like "Hello Stateside, Anyone in New Orleans?"
50. Bob Burns, N6ZH, who was half of this daily QSO, said these QSOs occurred on their HF working frequencies, not on 2M as Paul, AA2AV reported (Scipione, 1994:130).
51. Tim and Paul both independent of one another, said telephone company operators coveted the job of working with MARS.
52. Paul, AA2AV did not date the interview but cited the source of the information as the March 1973 issue of the 6th U.S. Army MARS Bulletin. It is likely the interview occurred in early March 1973 or late-1972. Paul noted the producer - director of the show was Frances Thailheimer. Army MARS Chief of Operations Grant Hays, WB6OTS says MARS Hq. no longer has copies of the 6th U.S. Army MARS Bulletin.
53. Collins gear was made to military/commercial standards, more rugged than amateur radio standards.
54. There are also hams who say that a Henry 4K was donated by either This is Your Life or Henry Radio to Lenore. Bob Burns, N6ZH who was Lenore's Assistant Net Control Station says she never had a Henry amplifier nor did Henry Radio donate any equipment to her.
55. Tim Stone recalls that several of LA area MARS hams of that time were in the entertainment industry. Fred Gately, W6LNH (sk) was a Director of Photography. Bob Burns, N6ZH was a model maker at Disney. And Lenore was an actress. Other active southern California MARS hams include Al Steinbrecher, WB6DBD and Peter Bloedt (callsign unknown). Bobs' email address on QRZ.com bounced back. I wrote him a letter in hopes of setting up an interview. There was no record of Al on the current FCC database. The Peter Bloedt on the current FCC database had a license issued in 2000, KG6DRH in LA (Laurel Canyon). This license was issued 7 years after Lenore's passing. We were unable to reach Peter.
56. This story was told to me by Cindy Wall, KA7ITT, Lenore's step-daughter.
57. QST did not ask her why those two where the most interesting hams she interviewed.
58. It is unknown if this was a one time event for if it occurred yearly.
59. One wonders what Lenore would think of amateur radio today, some 15 years after her passing, 69 years after she was first licensed? Some hams attempt to induce people who have just graduated from a CERT (Community Emergency Response Team, disaster preparedness) class to take their code-free Technician license so they could have a personal back-up communications with their family. This use of ham radio is not what Lenore had in mind. When she was licensed in 1939, the Federal Communications Act of 1934 had recently been past. That law defined us as the Amateur Radio Service. There are other radio services, CB and FRS, which are appropriate to family emergency communications. The Amateur Radio Service is suppose to be about public service, not the self-service some hams (as well as those who make their living from ham radio) have misrepresented our purpose. I would liked to have gone over to see Lenore and spoken with her about this for Lenore is an exemplar of ham radio for public service!
60. We wrote Frank and await his reply.
61. Current SFVARC members who have stories in the book are Bill Holladay, WB6EDE, and Archie Willis, W6LPJ.
62. By 2008, there were only four club members left who knew Bob and Lenore: Bill Holladay, WB6EDE, Archie Willis, W6LPJ, Allan Gayor, W6IST and myself.
63. A check of the FCC database reveals Lenore's old callsign, W9CHD is held by Charles J. Merten of Waukesha, WI. Charles has had this call at least since 1981, according to on Vanityhq.com's Unique Callsign Lookup which documents most calls back to 1981 and some earlier. W2NAZ is not in the current FCC database nor was there a listing on Vanityhq.com's Unique Callsign Lookup. W6NAZ is assigned to Barbara Courter of Porterville CA as a vanity callsign. I asked Steve and Cindy if they knew Barbara? They did not. I wrote Barbara and introduced myself as a friend and clubmate of Lenore Jensen's and the ham who got Lenore into the CQ Hall of Fame. I asked Barbara if she knew Lenore and had any stories and photos to share. Barbara did not reply.
Later, after I found and interview Lenore's dear friend, Jane Purcell, K6RGM, I asked Jane if she knew Barbara? She also did not. I did a more extensive search of public records on Lenore's callsign. The public record shows that in 2003, Barbara, who was then a Technician, and the holder of the vanity callsign W6LUV applied for Lenore's call. At this point Lenore had passed away 10 years earlier on May 5, 1993. Lenore's license expired on June 21, 1998; 5 years before Barbara applied for it. Barbara was apparently licensed on Oct. 5, 1993 as KE6CLL; 5 months after Lenore's passing. Let us add, Barbara has the legal right to apply for any available callsign her license class, General since 2007, qualifies her for. Good luck Barbara!
64. CQ magazine also sponsors separate Halls of Fame for DXers and Contestors. We have not looked at those other Halls in regards to their number of YLs.
65. The CQ Amateur Radio Hall of Fame is from CQ magazine. It is a different award that the Lifetime Achievement Award which is sponsored by the Dayton Amateur Radio Assn. (DARA) which puts on the Dayton Hamfest. Both awards are presented at the Dayton Hamfest but they have different sponsors.
66. In the third year of the Hall of Fame, 2003, Ethel Smith, K4LMB, Founder of YLRL was the first YL inducted. In 2004, Sister Alverna O'Laughlin, WA6SGJ, Founder of Handi-Hams was inductee number 117; the second woman. In 2006, Louisa Sando, W5RZL, CQ's YL Editor was inducted as number 156' the third woman.
67. The website has not been updated in 2008. We do not know Lenore's number.
68. The donation to Arcadia High School was solicited by then ARRL Southwest Division Director Fried Heyn, WA6WZO. Arcadia got Lenore's Kenwood TR2400 2M transceiver and other equipment. Her stepchildren inherited the HF gear. We reached out to Arcadia and asked them if they would take a photo of the gear Lenore donated so it could be put on this webpage. The club license trustee Ross Tucker did not reply to our emails. Those emails did not bounce back. We contacted the club advisor Rob Reniewicki who said their club was disbanded after Ross Tucker graduated in the early-2000s. All the equipment "disappeared" when they got a new building, and torn down the old one where the club station had been. Rob asked yearbook advisor Bryce Mckinney-Wain if he had a picture in an old yearbook. The results of this search were negative. They gave us new email address for Ross Tucker who did not reply; nor did that email bounce back.
69. Steve says at the time of her passing, Lenore did not have her Collins S-Line or the Henry 4K amplifier. The disposition of that equipment is unknown. This is unfortunate. Her Collins phone patch is of historical importance to amateur radio and belongs in a ham radio museum or even on display at the station of her club.
The antenna system was given to the installer provided he would remove it. Skip Bolnick, KJ6Y says he never did any work for the Jensen's. Skip suggested Ted Gillette, W6HX who is now a silent key might have been the installer. Cindy said the installer might have been named Doug. Another popular installer of the time was Bert Chappell who retired to FL. Skip thinks the tower might have been a Tri-ex or a Tristao.
When she left the planet, Lenore's station consisted of a Kenwood TS-930, TS-440S and a Kenwood TL-922 amplifier. There was also a Collins R-390 military general coverage receiver, Swan gear.... Steve used the TS-930 for sometime and then sold it to Roger McConnell, W6VE. Cindy used the TS-440S for sometime until Steve and her friend Doug Dragon, KH6XM, in Maui, Hawaii had his own TS-440S stop working. Cindy gave Doug Lenore's TS-440S.
Acknowledgement - This tribute could not have been done without the help of Lenore's family and friends. I thank Lenore's stepdaughter, Cindy Wall, KA7ITT for providing photos and background material for this tribute. Steve Jensen, W6RHM is thanked for providing the 1940s QST article about YLRL and a copy of Inside Amateur Radio. Cindy, Steve and I emailed intensely in August 2008 to make the biography better. Bob Burns, N6ZH provided a participant account of Lenore's MARS Vietnam period. Jeanne Brown and Jane (Mamma Jane) Purcell, K6RGM provided a friend (of Lenore's) perspective. Dennis Vernacchia, N6KI and Tim Stone, ex-WB6YCQ provided lots of leads and details from the perspective of a former military MARS operator. Bill Holladay, WB6EDE provided information on Lenore's radio credits and other leads. Grant Hays, WB6OTS, Chief of Operations Army MARS had Army MARS Hq. search old records. Glenn Rattmann, K6NA provided a copy of Lenore's QST profile.
Photo Acknowledgements - Paula Keiser, K8PK and Bob Burns, N6ZH helped with the Photoshop software. Thanks to Maty Weinberg, KA1EIB for ARRL's photo permission.
Special thanks to Paula Keiser, K8PK for being inspired by Lenore's story to write a new webpage to honor her.
© 2008, Cliff Cheng, Ph.D.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED