Tribute to Ernie Kenas - W3KKN

Special Memorial Tribute



Ernie Kenas


(Original author unknown)





Ernie Kenas, W3KKN, was raised and educated in Abington, Pennsylvania. He was a 1938 graduate of Abington High School. After graduation, Ernie began working for the Budd Company, which specialized in the manufacture of pressed-steel. Like many of his generation during World War II, Ernest enlisted and served in the United States military. Ernie chose the Navy, who offered him travel and furthered his education at Oklahoma University. After his discharge in 1946, he returned to the Budd Company, settled in Willow Grove with his wife, Bertha (Bert) and made a life together. He retired in 1975. Ernie enjoyed spending time in Clearwater, Florida and the outdoors. He was a longtime member of Sandy Run Country Club, where loved to play golf. Ernie was an avid fisherman and hunter of moose, elk, deer and turkeys. His children remembered “good times” of past summers spent at the family cabin located on Lake Shehawken in Wayne County. Ernie was a charter member of the Mt. Airy VHF Radio Club, Inc., better known as the Pack Rats.



"Ernie was in my very first VHF Contest Log in 1959 and I have fond memories of talking with him on the air over the years. It was not until I joined the PACK RATS in 1990 that I finally met Ernie face to face. I can truly say that I always enjoyed Ernie's company. I will miss his always joyful attitude and his comic phonetics."


"Gee, that is indeed very said news. I first met Ernie in 1967 when I joined the Pack Rats. I got to know him pretty well and can honestly say he was a real asset to the Club. Anyway, he will be missed. Please pass my condolences on to his family."

 Bert and Ernie

Bert and Ernie


"A very sad note indeed. Ernie was like a father and certainly a mentor to me. I became associated with the Pack Rats in 1958 soon after they began. At the time the membership requirement was 21 years of age I was 15 and would ride the bus from Doylestown to Willow Grove to hitch a ride to the meeting with one of the PackRats. Ernie played a big part in creating the category of student member of which I became the first. Over the years there were hunting trips to his cabin in N.E. Pa, Moose Meat dinners, home brew projects and the best stories ever. Most of all Ernie always had the best sense of humor and was a major factor in the clubs many years of success as a top technical organization as well as a top VHF contest club. ERNIE We will surely miss you."


"I am very sorry to hear of Ernie's death. He was a faithful friend, a wonderful amateur, and a stalwart Pack Rat. I first knew him in 1956, when I was a beginning high school student. Ernie was a helpful mentor even then, helping my brother and me to improve our station performance on 2 meters. "


"This is very sad news. May he rest in peace. And may we all remember the great things he has done for us as Packrats. He is now in Pack Rats heaven in the cosmos with other members of our club, may we all be luck to live and teach others as Ernie has."


"This is very sad news indeed. My dad W3EFH asks about Ernie - dad enjoyed sitting next to Ernie and talking to him at the meetings when dad was able to attend. I will be seeing dad tomorrow and will pass along the sad news. I remember working Ernie back in the late 50's and the 60's in the Jan Contest ( I was first licensed in 1958) with me using a Gonset Communicator II Crystal controlled rig on AM. He and one of our then local Havertown emergency radio net guys Hal W3HFY (SK) always battled it out for top spot in EPA (no grids back then) and Ernie would always beat Hal every January."


W3KKN (SK) and W3TNP (SK)


"I first met Ernie back in December 1958 or January1959, when I joined the club (back in the good old days). Where we first met at the West Oak Lane Communty Center on Thouron Avenue in Philadelphia"


"Ernie (like Harry W3CL) was a talker and enkjoyed telling stories. He worked for "The Budd Company" I think they were located on Philmont Avenue in Northeast Philly (actually Hunting Park Ave). He was a supervisor and had a number of people working under him. I remember a story that he told me about the time his company sent him to Germany to see how the German company made passenger rail cars. He was not allowed to take pictures or any of their plans of their manufacturing equipment. Ernie being a sly person made a bunch of mental notes and each night would return to his hotel room and make notes and sketches of what he had seen that day. When he returned to work at Budd,, he was able to design equipment so his company could take the Germans experience and design and manufacture better passenger rail cars here in the USA. Ernie had a lot of interesting stories to tell me when ever we got together."


"I wish I'd had the opportunity to know him beyond the club meetings. A couple years ago during homebrew night, Ernie presented his own unique take on "home brew". Though I didn't partake, that little joke kept me laughing for days. His memory will be greatly cherished by many."


"W3 King King Nellie was always there to check in, give you a contest QSO, or go out of his way to greet you on the radio or at a meeting. He welcomed me as a friend from the first time we met, in the early 90's when I got involved with the Rats. And I always got a little smile thinking of the Bert and Ernie thing, even after she passed. Now they are together again. There are not many of the great ones around anymore. Ernie was one of the last. I'll miss him."


"Very sad news indeed...Back in 1998 I remember listening to Ernie & Bob, W3GXB talking on the repeater and thought "these guys have been talking for years and look at how much fun they still have!" This prompted me to look back in my logbooks from when I was first licensed in 1966 while still in high school. I found the calls of quite a few Pack Rats and of course Ernie was there also. I realized I had been talking to Ernie for 30 years! My first station was a Heathkit Sixer for a transmitter and a homebrew nuvistor converter with a Knight Kit R55A receiver. With encouragement from Ernie I added a Tecraft converter for 2 meters and a converted 2m mobile radio transmitter and was on two bands. Finally Ernie suggested, 'you should add the 220 band Bob'. He sent me plans for the "Barry Rig" conversion and a home brew 8El antenna made with copper tubing. I upgraded to an NC-300 receiver with matching converters for 50, 144, & 220. I always knew that someday I would join the Pack Rats. As I said to Ernie in 1988, "Thanks for talking to that 19 year old kid from Palmyra so many years ago!" May he rest in peace. He will be missed by many who he influenced throughout the years..."


"I remember Ernie as a great operator in the 50's and one of the hams who got me interested in the Pack Rats. A great guy who we will all miss."


"I have only come to know Ernie within the past 5 years. I saw him as a person dedicated to life, radio and the Packrats. It was truly touching to see him enter the meeting room and was always a time to listen when he spoke. to me, as a newcomer, what is even more telling is the outpouring of affection that I have read for the past several days coming from those who knew him for many years. I will miss you Ernie. Rest in Peace."


"darn I will miss him.."


"I have been a Packrat for only the past 12 years, but in the past 5 years, I have been Ernie's chauffeur for many of the Packrat events that he attended. During those rides we had a lot of time to talk and he shared his life's stories with me. During one of the January contest wrap-up meetings held at my QTH he was sitting at the table with my father-in-law Sy, who was probably 90 at the time. Ernie came into the house with his walker, and Sy asked him what happened to his leg. Ernie as always had a yarn to spin, and this was an excellent opportunity, as the two had never met before. Ernie expained that he was trying to become a Navy Seal, and that one of the tests was to wrestle an alligator. He balked at the suggestion, he told Sy, but then Ernie went on to tell him that they would allow him to wrestle an old toothless alligator, and he finally acquiesced. But then when he got in the tank, they fooled him and let him tangle with a young and wild alligator that bit his leg off! Sy was wide eyed.... But the best comedy I ever remember was when Ernie had us in tears laughing at the Crying Towel meeting when he regaled us with the story about having a cardiac pacemaker installed and requiring a ground wire running down his arm/sleeve to avoid any problems when transmitting. He had the alligator clip and wire cleverly hanging out of his cuff and went on to tell a story about needing to use the bathroom and having the wire get caught down in the plumbing when he flushed..... For many of us who knew Ernie from his later years, we were fortunate to hear a lot about his (and Bert's) earlier years and all their central roles with the club, VHF and phonepatch traffic for our servicement overseas from Joe Taylor's presentation at Ernie's 50th Packrat membership anniversary luncheon a few years ago. We'll all miss him "


"When I was first licensed and got on 6m he was the first Pack Rat I knew. In those days he ran the 6m Monday night net, from the "foothills of the Poconos". For a city kid like me this made sense. Willow Grove, yeah, we used to ride there on the interurban trolley, He had a distintive voice and patter as he circled his rotor "any Redcoats , Northeast?" After having checked in a few times K3DMA was assig ned to the Sandpipers, Southeast. If i checked in late or out of order he would nudge me back into the right grouping when he came around for comments. He enforcced net discipline witha firm but kindly hand."


"During the 1999 January Contest, I sat waiting for 15 minutes, for one of our guys to come back down from the cosmic bands to work my 2 watts and indoor antenna on 1296. As I related at the following Crying Towel meeting, I felt "abandoned, left a Pack Rat Orphan" in the cold of the microwaves. But then, from the ether, came an unexpected but friendly voice, flipping some switches, moving some frozen orange juice from his amp and gathering me back into the fold, it was Ernie, W3KKN. I won the Crying Towel that year with another piece of the W3KKN legend. I just learned the sad news and note the passing of a real phenomenon -though Ernie certainly would not think of himself that way. Like the wind passing through high branches, if you listen, you can still hear the whisper of his voice and call. 73 Ernie and, thanks for the contact."


"I remember well the story of the ground wire running down Ernie's sleeve. I never tired of listening to Ernie whether he was being serious or not. I doubt there are many Pack Rats whose life Ernie did not touch. I know he touched mine many times. His advice about life was always right on the mark. We will all miss him dearly."



W3RZU and W3KKN at the 2005 Luncheon in Ernies honor.

Both are charter members of the Pack Rats.