Thursday, February 9, 2012

Jim Baker, WG4MB/SK

The Boy Scouts, Ham Radio, & I have lost a good friend with the passing of Jim Baker, WG4MB of Myrtle Beach, SC.

At the Grand Strand Amateur Radio Club's Annual Dinner last month, I had a chance to sit & speak with Jim for a bit, it was the last time we spoke together face to face.  I noticed he was looking a bit frail, he had lost weight, and I could see an aged gauntness in his face that wasn't there before. I assumed he had been dieting, he had a heart bypass last year, and I was guessing he was following Doctors orders to rein in his diet. So I jokingly asked him what was his secret?  He smiled and paused, then told me it was a bit more serious than that. However, he immediately swore me to silence, and not to let on and breathe a word. Instead, in true Boy Scout fashion he simply said "I'm prepared", and changed the subject to his Scouts, and to the upcoming Marathon our Ham Club participated in each year.  Typical Jim Baker... never on himself, always thinking of others, always forward thinking.

Ham Radio was #3 on Jim's mind, first of course, was his family, second was his Boy Scouts, and then came Ham Radio, but he always seemed able to blend all three together very well. From him & his son Tony helping man an Aid Station at the Myrtle Beach Marathon, to having a troop of scouts invade the Radio Club's field day, getting each scout working a turn at the GOTA (Get On The Air) station, helping them earn their Communication Merit Badge. Jim was always driven to helping others before himself.

I always enjoyed the ragchews we'd have together on the radio while both of us would be stuck in Myrtle Beach traffic.  He'd be heading out to pick up son Tony from school, or making a grocery store run before dinner, and me slogging my way home after work in the rolling parking lot of Highway 501. We'd commiserate & communicate over one thing or the other, but Jim always had a positive outlook that left me feeling better about whatever it was we were talking about. I'm going to miss his wit, wisdom and advice. I'm going to miss him calling me "Bobby" one else called me that.

I could count on Jim to check in or run radio nets during SKYWARN weather alerts, or in between cooking dinner, helping Tony with homework, or whatever his busy household had going on. He kept us all informed on what was happening in and around slightly soggy Socastee Swamp. Often he came to bat in a pinch, not only on our local nets, but also on the Mobile Maritime Service Net on 20 Meters HF, where he was a regular check-in and occasional net control. WG4MB made Amateur Radio a much better place, and the airwaves will be a little too quiet with him gone.

If my life could hold even a fraction of the tireless optimism Jim Baker carried within him every day, I know I'd be a better man. God bless you my friend, you prepared me, & everyone who knew you, in your own special way.  '73 Good Friend - Bobby KI4HEE

UPDATE: Many thanks to Steve NN2NN, for forwarding on a precious Gem, a recording of Jim, recently checking into the 14.300 Mobile Maritime Service Net... quite likely one of the last transmissions WG4MB (Wille Go 4 More Beer) ever made. Always optimistic, that was Jim, a good Scout. Thanks again Steve!


MarkJ said...

Thank you for your words about Jim. He was a good man and will be missed.

AJ4QM-Joe said...

I could not have said it better myself...I'm going to miss him terribly...
Thanks for posting this...made me feel a little better after a long day of feeling so sad

Steve NN2NN said...


Sorry for your loss. I knew Jim from his activity on 14.300 MHz. He will be miss by all who participate there. I am webmaster for an advocacy website for the nets that operate on 14.300 MHz and I record audio just about all day, everyday of the activity on the nets. One of Jim's final check in's to The Maritime Mobile Service Network, with Barry VE3BZW as NCS, was caught by my recording. I have included a link to the 2 minute mp3 recording.

WG4MB recording

Best regards,
Steve NN2NN

KC0YHM MN Mike said...

I have never met Jim, but I have spoken to him and 'worked' nets with him a hundred times...even though we havent met, there's no doubt in my mind we have just lost a 'good' man. Somewhere in his shack is a board and a grease-pen looking for a good home.
Willhe Go 4 More Beer... I will see ya down the log a bit.

ConwayBob said...

Thank you Steve, NN2NN for posting that recording, as always, Jim was forever the optimist, something we all can learn from. Thanks again for a audio touchstone we can always treasure.

Shooter said...

May there be Ham Radio in Heaven

Unknown said...

Willy Go 4 More Beer was one of my favourite people and a favourite relay station of mine on the 14.300 nets. I will miss him dearly.
Jim, God be with you.

Barry VE3BZW

W2SOC said...

RIP Jim. I had just gotten to know you a bit, and know in your way you are up there looking out for all the HAMS still here.

Kane McConnell said...

Thanks for capturing this recording of my dad. When was this recorded?

N8UAD said...

I am very saddened to hear the news of Jim's passing. He was an awesome man. I knew him when I was stationed at Myrtle Beach and he managed the Radio Shack in Conway.

ConwayBob said...

Hello Kane, I'm sorry I failed to read your comment until now. Kane, this recording of the MMSN was from the early afternoon of the day your father passed. As far as anyone can speculate, this recording was made within hours of Jim's last moments alive. It's particularly significant in its demonstration of your Father's perpetual optimism. God bless him.

Kane McConnell said...

No problem. I've kept the recording and play it once in a while just to hear his voice again. It's cool that he was doing the things he loved when the time came to head home. That was Dad.