A Tribute to W0AIH

Photo by N6TV

Photo by Bob Wilson, N6TV

Paul Bittner, the Contester among Midwestern Contesters, died on Wednesday October 31, 2018 at his superstation near Eau Claire, Wisconsin. Paul had been working on an antenna and the rope/Pulley system failed. Paul apparently fell from around 60 feet and died from those injuries. His wife Mary said that "Paul died doing what he loved.” Many of us in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin have stations that Paul helped build. He put up the first 100 ft of my tower and helped me with antenna work. He was a mentor to hundreds of hams and his enthusiasm for contesting was infectious!

Paul was born in Stewartville, MN about 8 miles south of Rochester. He became a ham as a 15 year old and put up a yagi at the parsonage where his father was a pastor soon thereafter. He went to high school in Rochester, MN with Dick Erhorn, who later founded Alpha Amplifiers. Paul made a trip late in life to Virginia to put up a tower for W4ETO as a favor. Paul would only have alpha amplifiers in his station. Paul loved contesting almost as much as he loved his family and his work as a minister. He never tired of contests and was looking forward to the ARRL SS. Paul attended the WRTC 2018 as an observer in July and had plans to return in 2022 to Italy. He will have to observe it from his Heavenly perch now.

He is survived by his wife and four daughters. Paul always told us he wanted to be buried with three things most important to him: His Bible, His Hymnal, and his CW key.

We are all saddened that his life on earth ended too quickly. 84 years was too short a time for those of us who knew and loved him.

Paul best described himself on QRZ:

"I have been on the air since 1949, all with the call W0AIH. My main operating activity is multi-multi contesting from my QTH in west-central Wisconsin, known around the Upper Midwest as "The Farm". My wife Mary, WB0PXM, and I moved to our 120 acre farm in the country in 2000. Finally - NO TVI - no neighbor closer than 1/2 mile!

Towers & antennas started growing at the Farm in 1982. Almost all the towers are retired from broadcast service and then taken down by me and moved to the Farm. My favorite band is 160M; W1BB got me started when I was living in Ontario, and he found out that I had 160M capability with my Johnson Ranger and Collins 75A4. From 1958-1962 I operated as W0AIH/VE3, and 160M has been "my band" ever since. My favorite contest is CQ WorldWide CW!

I am a retired Lutheran Minister having served my first four years in Ontario; then in Virgina, MN; then Grand Island, NE; and finally Fall Creek, WI. I retired on Pentecost 2000.”

We can add that the LORD called him home after Pentecost 2018. Pentecost was one of his favorite Christian holidays to preach at because he had such an international ministry and love for how ham radio and contesting reflected what he thought the gospel also reflected - friendship, love and fellowship across international boundaries.

Paul was deeply honored to be in the CQ Contest Hall of Fame, to have hosted many US and non-US hams at his station for contests and for his work in the former Soviet Asiatic republics where he also operated ham radio. Paul was especially honored this Summer to officiate at the wedding of two Midwestern contesters: Jerry WB9Z and Val NV9L. He called me after the wedding to say how special it was for he and Mary to be there.

Scott Wright, K0MD