ORCA Founder Jim Tiemstra K6JAT/SK

November 2020

We are very saddened to report the sudden passing of Jim Tiemstra, K6JAT, a founding member of ORCA. Jim served as ORCA’s first president in 1998, as president or vice president several times since then, and as an elected or ex-officio member of the board for all 22 years of ORCA’s existence.

Jim was a treasured mentor and friend to many in ORCA and in amateur radio circles around the bay area and the country. He helped set a tone for ORCA that was both friendly and professional. His enthusiasm and guidance in everything from radio operating to club leadership will be sorely missed.

ARRL Pacific Division Director Jim Tiemstra, K6JAT, of Oakland, California, died October 30. An ARRL Life Member, he was 65.

“Jim was passionate about ham radio and a dedicated member of the ARRL Board of Directors,” ARRL President Rick Roderick, K5UR, said. “He devoted himself to the members of his Division and always strove to do what was best for amateur radio and its future. His knowledge and leadership were significant and will be missed by the many who worked with him and had the pleasure to know him.”

Tiemstra was ARRL Pacific Division Vice Director from 2009 through 2017, sitting on the Administration and Finance, and Programs and Services Committees of the Board. He became ARRL Pacific Division Director in January 2018. Currently, he was a member of the Administration and Finance Committee, the Legal Structure Review Committee, chair of the Legislative Advocacy Committee, and an advisor to the Amateur Radio Legal Defense and Assistance Committee, among other Board assignments.

Licensed in 1970 as WN9ELU in Chicago, Tiemstra was the president of his high school radio club in Illinois. Early on, he built most of his own gear from Heathkits. In 1977, he married Lilah Greene, KE6EHD, and they moved to California, where Tiemstra became N6OIK, later choosing K6JAT as a vanity call sign. He’d also held V26JAT and 3D2TJ and had operated from Curacao and Hawaii. 

Primarily a contester and DXer, Tiemstra had been a DXpedition member and had long been involved in the public service aspects of the hobby. As a member of the Oakland Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) group, he was among those responding to the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 and the Oakland Hills firestorm in 1991, receiving a Certificate of Appreciation from the American Red Cross. He championed the Emergency Communication Ham Operation (ECHO) proposal to install amateur radio equipment in his city’s emergency operations center and in each of its 30 fire stations.

Tiemstra worked with his ARES group to gain RACES recognition, wrote the RACES Operations Manual, and was instrumental in forging a formal Letter of Understanding with the City of Oakland. Jim served as Oakland’s RACES Radio Officer for more than 14 years, was on the mayor’s Emergency Management Council, and was ARRL East Bay Section Emergency Coordinator. In 2002, he was recognized by the Oakland Fire Department as Community Volunteer of the Year.

In 1998, Tiemstra incorporated the Oakland Radio Communication Association (ORCA), an ARRL affiliated club, was a founding director, and became its first president. He served as trustee of the club’s call sign, WW6OR.

Tiemstra retired in 2018 as a federal practitioner in the private practice of law. He was an ARRL Diamond Club and Maxim Society member.

He and his wife have twin sons, Robert and Matthew, KI6IHP.

December 2019​

Jim Tiemstra obtained his first Amateur Radio license, WN9ELU, in Chicago in 1970. Since then Jim has held General, Advanced and Extra Class (20 wpm) licenses and the callsigns: WB9ELU, N6OIK, K6JAT, V26JAT and 3D2TJ, as well as having operated as PJ2/K6JAT and KH6/K6JAT, and from V26DX, KH6RS and KH6KR.

At Lyons Township High School in La Grange, Illinois, Jim eventually became the president of the Radio Club which held the callsign of W9SW and was equipped largely with World War II surplus radio equipment. Jim built his own gear mostly from Heathkits. In 1977, Jim married his wife, Lilah Greene, KE6EHD, and they moved to California. (They have twin sons, Robert and Matthew, KI6IHP, born in 1994.)

While Jim's favorite Ham Radio pastimes are contesting, DXing (he has confirmed the "easy" 300 plus) and DXpeditions, he has long been involved in the public service aspects of the hobby. As a member of the Oakland ARES group, Jim responded to the Loma Prieta Earthquake (1989) and Oakland Hills Firestorm (1991) disasters. Subsequently, the group successfully championed a proposal to use post-firestorm, bond Measure I funds to acquire and install amateur radio equipment in the City's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and each of its 30 firestations dubbed the Emergency Communication Ham Operation (ECHO) system. He worked with the group to gain RACES recognition, wrote the RACES Operations Manual and was instrumental in forging a formal Letter of Understanding (LOU) with the City of Oakland.

In 1998, Jim incorporated the Oakland Radio Communication Association (ORCA), an ARRL affiliated club, was a founding director and became its first president. He currently is the trustee of the club's callsign: WW6OR. Jim acted as Oakland's RACES Radio Officer for over 14 years, served on the mayor's Emergency Management Council and was the Section Emergency Coordinator (SEC) of the ARRL's East Bay Section.

Jim is a Life Member of the ARRL, and served as Vice Director of the ARRL's Pacific Division from 2009 through 2017, during which time he served on the Administration and Finance, and Programs and Services Committees of the Board. He also serves on the League’s Public Service Enhancement Working Group which finalized the new ARES Plan in 2018 after three years of effort. On January 20, 2018, he became the Division's Director. At present, he serves on the League's Executive Committee, Chairs the Legislative Advocacy Committee and is on the Amateur Radio Legal Defense and Assistance Committee along with other assignments.

Most days, Jim can be found anywhere from DC to light from his shack, mobile or as DX. Jim retired as a Federal practitioner in the private practice of law in 2018.

© 2020 Oakland Radio Communication Association  

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