He was 71. Zimmerman wrote the popular QST column”The World Above 50 MHz” from 2002-2011.
He also served on the ARRLContest Advisory Committee, edited the VHF contesting column for CQContest magazine during its five-year lifespan and was director ofthe CQ VHF Contest from 2000-2002.
An ARRL Life Member, Zimmermanearned VUCC on six bands: 50, 144, 222, 432, 903 and 1296 MHz, aswell as DXCC, Worked All States and Worked All Continents on 6meters.
He was an early proponent of — and participant in –aggressive contest log checking. First licensed in 1956 — and an Amateur Extra since 1963 –Zimmerman has logged several national Top-10 finishes in the ARRLNovember Sweepstakes (both modes), as well as a second-place NorthAmerican finish in the CQ World Wide CW Contest (from VP2MDD).
He also placed in the Top 10 several times in the ARRL VHF QSO Partiesand in the ARRL VHF Sweepstakes. Zimmerman earned a PhD in Microbiology from the University ofMaryland in 1968.
He began his professional career at the NationalInstitutes of Health (NIH), where he spent a year as a technician inan NIH laboratory, studying respiratory viruses.
This experiencesparked an interest in virology and conquering the common cold. After this, he conducted early research at NIH, studying therelationship between retroviruses and cancer, the use of the simianmodel for studying leukemia and the use of interferon as an immunesystem modulator.
In 1976, he joined the NIH Grants AssociateProgram, which groomed promising scientists for careers in managingNIH research programs.
Zimmerman was then recruited to be theScientific Review Administrator of the Allergy and Immunology StudySection of the Immunological Sciences Integrated Review Group, wherehe evaluated research proposals to provide funds for research inimmunology.
“Gene brought the same intensity and depth of knowledge of hiscareer at the NIH to understanding propagation,” said Ward Silver,N0AX. “His tenure as the conductor of QST’s ‘The World Above 50 MHz’usually resulted in a sharp recounting and analysis of the month’sunusual on-the-air events. I learned something from every singlecolumn. But what most will remember about Gene, though, will be hisamazing capacity for storytelling and the twinkling of his eyes ashe told of the undoing of scoundrels with obvious and undilutedglee. I’ve had the pleasure of being his roommate at Dayton and WRTCand I don’t believe I’ve ever laughed harder or longer. Gene knewwhere all the bodies were buried and relished his role as sage andhistorian.”
Zimmerman was a shortwave listener before becoming a ham. After hegot his ticket when he was a freshman at Yale University, Zimmermanbecame interested in weak signal VHF, due to his friendship with Paul Doane, W1HAD, who at the time was a college student at Brown. “I remained active on the VHF bands until I left Connecticut in1964, but I also developed an interest in HF and VHF contesting,” hetold the ARRL in June 2011. “When I moved to Washington, DC, Ibecame involved in HF contesting in a serious way, particularlybuilding multi-op contest stations with Tom Peruzzi, W4BVV (SK). Ireturned to weak signal VHF in 1981 and built a pretty decent VHFstation, which I have expanded to 10 GHz.”
Unlike HF where some band is open for long distance communicationsall the time, Zimmerman said that openings on VHF are few and farbetween — and extremely exciting when they happen. “I guess I don’tlike things that are easy, so I chose to do VHF+, “he explained.”Over the years, I have worked more than 140 DXCC entities on 6meters, 38 states and 9 DXCC terrestrially on 2 meters, 36 states on222 MHz and VUCC on 50-1296 MHz. In contests, I have also been inthe Top 10 nationally several times from my home station, and havewon the multi-unlimited category four times with K8GP, the DelmarvaVHF and Microwave Society. I think once you have built an interestin the VHF+ bands, it never goes away.”
“Gene was a pleasure to work with, witty and insightful,” said QSTEditor Steve Ford, WB8IMY. “I am sure he will be greatly missed by many.”
“Amateur Radio has had its share of characters but none were morecolorful or more widely respected than Dr Gene Zimmerman, W3ZZ — aman who in one breath could identify the source of the world’sgreatest hot dogs, explain once-in-a-lifetime propagation andrecount the history of contesting and contesters,” Silver said. “Wewill all miss Gene’s presence greatly and it is a sad day for us allto learn of his passing.”
Zimmerman was a member of the Delmarva VHF and Microwave Society,K8GP, the Grid Pirates Contest Group, a Past President of thePotomac Valley Radio Club and an honorary member of the ConnecticutWireless Association. Funeral arrangements are pending.
The Zimmerman family has requested that memorial contributions maybe made in Gene’s honor to the ARRL Education and Technology Fund.