W6NKT Goes Silent: Cal Poly Mourns the Loss of Harry K. Wolf

January 19, 2017

Contact: Amy Hewes
College of Engineering

Cal Poly has lost its oldest alumnus. Harry K. Wolf of Morro Bay, Calif., passed away on Jan. 15, a couple weeks shy of his 108th birthday. Wolf was also perhaps the oldest active radio amateur in the U.S. — since 1936, you could find him on air daily, mostly on 40-meter CW or continuous waveform.

Born in 1909 in Paso Robles, Calif., Wolf’s lifelong passions included teaching and amateur radio. He built his first radio as a teenager in 1922. After he got his ham ticket, he held the call sign W6NKT for his entire life.

Wolf attended Cal Poly 1927-29, majoring in electrical engineering. He earned his bachelor's degree at North Arizona State Teachers College in 1933, his master’s degree in 1941 and doctorate in 1962. He initially taught mathematics at Placerville, Calif. High School; while serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, he taught navigation to cadets training at Cal Poly.

Instrumental in establishing the Electronics Engineering Department, Wolf taught at Cal Poly and Cal Poly Pomona for 31 years, retiring in 1973 as a professor emeritus. He published his autobiography, “The Oak Tree,” in 2009.

The founding advisor of the Cal Poly Amateur Radio Club (CPARC), Wolf signed the club’s original charter in 1947. In 2009, he donated a Yaesu FTDX-9000D transceiver to the club. At 103, Wolf attended the dedication of CPARC’s new 72-foot antenna tower, which enables students, faculty and community members to send and receive radio signals worldwide.

Many of those signals came from W6NKT.

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