Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Roy Jorgensen (1918-2008)

We were saddened this morning (3/26/08) to learn that good friend Roy Jorgensen of Vermillion, South Dakota died on Easter Sunday in Sioux Falls. He was 89.

Among the first to welcome Karen and me to Vermillion when we moved there in 1985 were Roy and Helen Jorgensen. Roy was an engineer for South Dakota Public Broadcasting in Vermillion, where he was pretty much in charge of technical operations for KUSD Radio. He had been with SDPB since the 1960s.

Already in his late 60s when I first came to know him, Roy was an avid ham radio operator (WØMMQ), and he introduced me to “packet radio.” I was amazed at his insatiable curiosity about things and his willingness to try something new. The conversion into digital electronics was a joy for Roy.

Roy and I also worked together on Lion’s projects, so it was a special delight to see him and Helen when Karen and I made an unexpected side trip to Vermillion two years ago. Good friends Vern and Joan Holter had invited us to join them at the Lion’s Pancake Supper, and among the folks we were able to see and visit with again were Roy and Helen. It was sheer delight!

We were also pleasantly surprised to learn, when we moved to the Black Hills, that Roy and Helen’s daughter and son-in-law, Ann and Ken Froelich, also lived in Spearfish.

Roy was born and raised in Yankton. And as I read through his obituary, I thought of how very much Roy Jorgensen typified the ex-GI’s that fellow broadcaster Tom Brokaw -- also also from Yankton -- wrote about in his book The Greatest Generation.

A World War II veteran who saw Signal Corps service in New Guinea, Roy repaired aircraft radios and other equipment as planes returned from combat missions. After the war, he came home, got on with his life, raised a family, and became an active member of his community – helping so many others along the way.

In amateur radio parlance, Roy is now a “Silent Key.” Throughout his life, he conveyed kindness and helpfulness to all – not just in his messages, but in his actions.

73 old friend.

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