A real ham

Fulton man reaches out to world through radio

Dick White listens in as he taps out a message in Morse code to a listener across the world from his home Monday. White, perhaps Callaway County’s most prolific ham radio operator, has made contacts to almost everywhere in the world over the past 37 years.

Dick White listens in as he taps out a message in Morse code to a listener across the world from his home Monday. White, perhaps Callaway County’s most prolific ham radio operator, has made contacts to almost everywhere in the world over the past 37 years. Photo by Dean Asher.

He served Fulton and Callaway County as an optometrist for 40 years, but the two broadcast towers he’s erected in his backyard mean Dick White’s neighbors probably know him best as a radio man.

There are hundreds of people in as many countries, territories and islands who know him as an amateur radio operator as well. Since he discovered his love of radio at a young age, White has gone on to become a founding member of the Callaway Amateur Radio League (CARL) and make long-distance confirmed contacts to locations around the world.

White was born Sept. 15, 1926 in Oklahoma City, and graduated from high school in Carthage. After serving the Navy during World War II and attending college in Memphis, he moved to Fulton in 1954 to open an optometry practice, which he continued until 1992 when he retired and sold his business to J.W. Vann.

Though eyecare was his profession, his passion proved to be radio. The bug bit him when he was just 9 years old after reading instructions on making a simple home radio receiver out of a Quaker Oats box in an edition of Popular Mechanics magazine.

“It was quite a thrill when I moved a wire across that galena crystal and heard a voice say “this is WKY in Oklahoma City,” White said. “I’ve always been interested in things like that, hands-on things. I don’t collect stamps.”

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