A giant in the field of low-frequency DXing and contesting, John Devoldere, ON4UN/AA4OI, of Merelbeke, Belgium, died on November 9. An ARRL Life member, he was 79 and had been in failing health. In addition to his enthusiasm for operating, Devoldere may be best known as the author of the popular book ON4UN’s Low-Band DXing, published by ARRL, as well as other books, including Ethics and Operating Procedures for the Radio Amateur, which he co-authored with Mark Demeuleneere, ON4WW. The book is hosted on the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU) Region 1 website.
“Ham radio, and especially low-band DXing, were my father’s lifelong passions and always had a strong presence in our house,” his daughter, Marleen, said in announcing her father’s passing. “Though I don’t have a call sign, I very much feel a part of the big radio family and always will.”
The Royal Union of Belgian Radio Amateurs (UBA) President Claude van Pottelsberghe de la Potterie, ON7TK, said Devoldere was “a radio amateur in heart and soul” who will always be remembered. “We are grateful for his contribution to [amateur radio] and for his efforts within the UBA,” he said. He was a member of the HF Committee from 1983 to 2016. In 1994, he became Provincial President of East Flanders. Two years later, he joined the national board of the UBA, and from 1998 to 2007 he became chairman and was at the basis of many reforms within the UBA. Devoldere retired in 2016.
According to his QRZ.com profile, he became interested in radio at the age of 11 and built his first single-tube transmitter the following year. His uncle, ON4GV, got him interested in amateur radio. Devoldere was licensed in 1961, at the age of 20. He built much of his station gear and got into contesting, winning the UBA CW Contest in 1962. At about the same time, he got interested in low-band operating. He worked 364 DXCC entities on 80 meters, lacking only North Korea. Belgium didn’t gain access to160 meters until 1987, and a few years later erected a full-size quarter-wave vertical for top band (160 meters). By 2018, he had 325 DXCC entities on 160 meters. He authored the 80-Meter DX Handbook for Ham Radio magazine. ARRL approached him about writing a book on low-band operating, and the first edition of Low-Band DXing came out in 1987, and updated editions followed.
He built a competitive multi-single contest station and operated in some 80 international contests — including the ARRL International DX, the CQ World Wide DX, Stew Perry Topband Challenge, and others. The walls in his ham shack hold more than 50 first-place contest plaques.
He was elected to the CQ Contest Hall of Fame in 1997 and the CW DX Hall of Fame in 2007. He received the YASME Excellence Award in 2013.
Marleen Devoldere said she is planning a digital farewell ceremony on Saturday, November 21. The family invites condolences via email.