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Francois LaPierre, SK

It is with great sadness that I share the passing of VA7FEL, Francois LaPierre, who became a Silent Key on Friday, December 2 at 4pm.

Francois was a character -- a larger than life character -- and I didn't really know him all that well, but in the short time that I knew him he made an impact on my life.

I first met Francois over the VE7RLO repeater -- I think it was during Field Day in the early days of COVID -- I was up at the repeater doing some work and this voice with a distinct Quebecois accent came over the radio asking for a radio check.  I got to talking to him and he told me that he had trouble getting a response on the repeater and wasn't sure that his radio was working.  I told him that I would be willing to meet him and do some tests with his radio to make sure it was working properly.  

It turned out he had recently moved into an apartment about two blocks from my office, so at lunch I walked up and met him across the street from his apartment.  He was sitting in his mobility scooter, relaxing under the shade of a tree in the parking lot, and was surrepticiously sipping a beer!

He had a little Baofeng HT, and when he told me where he lived I suspected that the Baofeng didn't have a good line of site to the repeater, hence the poor reception.  So I offered to help make him a window dipole. That was the start of our friendship.  Francois had moved to Kamloops from Vernon, and he missed talking with his friends in Vernon.  Frank's English (by his own admission!) wasn't the best, but he was fluent in French and it was a joy to hear his Quebecios accent on the local repeater when he was having a QSO with his friends in Vernon.  Over the years the club helped Francois get better radios and antennas so that he could still be active on the air.  The last project that Ralph and myself cooked up for Francois this past summer was a surplus Tait UHF radio and compact switching power supply along with a home-built UHF quarter-wave dipole that looked very much like a sexy brass coat rack!

I always used to enjoy hearing him call "CQ" in the morning, and telling people that he would be monitoring the radio "from 7am to 7pm" -- he was willing to monitor the radio in case anyone out there needed assistance, or just needed someone to talk to.  That's the kind of guy he was.   

Francois' health took a turn for the worse this fall, and he passed after a long illness that kept him off the radio at the end.  I spoke to him several hours before his passing, and he insisted that I take the radio package back and that the club should give it to someone in need, someone that could use it.  Someone like him.  It brought tears to my eyes knowing that Francois only had hours to live, but he was thinking of others -- his innate generousity and compassion was obvious right up to the end.  

Francois, we will miss you.

Francois LaPierre, VA7FEL
Silent Key, December 2, 2022