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Who was W4AFC?

The Upper Pinellas Amateur Radio Club callsign of W4AFC was a vanity callsign obtained to honor Marion Shields–one of my mentors/elmers when I got started in amateur radio (along with Don Pablo Bostrom, KI4FI). He was a spanish teacher in Dunedin High School and a great influence upon me to look at things rationally and consider my actions. He was active in the Dunedin VEC program where many people successfully passed their code test using the great headphones in the Dunedin language lab. You can read more about Marion here. Both Marion and Paul were beyond helpful in making sure the hams in the high school radio club had radios to operate and the antenna party to put them up. Marion also had a Commodore 64 in his classroom which helped lead me to programing–and we all know how that turned out :). I am so glad that W4AFC became available and I was able to secure it to continue amateur radio activities in north Pinellas county.

Thanks to Jeff, WA4AW, I found out about the original holder of W4AFC. He was Ralph Hollis. He was on the USS Arizona when it was struck in Pearl Harbor. He, along with his comrades, was lost on that infamous day. More about Mr. Hollis here.


  1. Dan Shields Dan Shields

    Greetings… I am Marion Shields’ second son Dan (Daniel) Shields. My dad Marion Shields was originally K9BEM in Illinois, but had to switch to a new call sign upon moving to Florida in 1966, per licensure rules that existed then. When I became licensed about 14 years ago, I heard about the Vanity License program and was able to switch my license to K9BEM, which I still hold.

    My father passed away about ten years ago. I’m so thankful that someone who knew him, especially someone so wonderfully influenced by him, was able to obtain the W4AFC callsign. In case you didn’t know, Dad referred to himself in Ham Radio context as Amiable Fat Chewer. Thanks so much (belatedly!) for this posting.

    • Tom Tom

      Hi Dan, I was reviewing comments but I could not remember if I ever replied to this one. I am glad this all worked out. You have his original call which is great. And I only knew him as W4AFC so it all just fits somehow. Your father started a heck of a legacy down here. We still have people that talk about the VE testing sessions where he ran CW tests in the language lab with the headphones in the descending trays. We have a very active group so W4AFC is on the air via our repeater and at Field Day. The club is the Upper Pinellas ARC located not far from Dunedin High.

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