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Tribute To The Late Nancy WZ8C, FISTS NA Leader

Column #100 by John Shannon K3WWP - I had hoped that column 100 would be a very special one, but not in the way it has turned out. As everyone knows by know, we lost our beloved FISTS leader Nancy Kott on March 2, and this column will offer some thoughts about her.

First of all here is a tribute to her that I wrote for our NAQCC March newsletter with some comments on it afterwards.

By John K3WWP #0002: On March 2, 2014 the CW world lost one of its major proponents when Nancy Kott, WZ8C, leader of the North American branch of the world's premiere CW Preservation Club, FISTS, passed away at age 58. A whole (large) book could be written about her dedication to keeping CW alive as well as other aspects of her life - and I hope that book will be written to honor this remarkable lady. I certainly would be one of the first to purchase such a book.

What I have to say here would only be a small chapter in such a book, but it needs to be said. I want to tell the story of the role she had in helping to make the NAQCC what it is today. From the very beginning of the NAQCC until the present, the two clubs have never had any conflicts or differences because of the wonderful and generous character of Nancy.

First a little background. I joined FISTS in the mid-1990s as # 2002. Not too long after that, Nancy found out about my interest in QRP and asked me if I would be interested in writing a QRP column for the FISTS magazine Keynote. I thought about it briefly and agreed to do so. My first column appeared in issue # 9 for 1996.

Fast forward now to 2004. When Tom and I formed the NAQCC, I somewhat timidly asked Nancy if it would be OK with her and FISTS if I mentioned our new club in one of my QRP columns. I told her we had no intention of competing with FISTS in any way. I told her our club was dedicated solely to the QRP and simple antennas aspect of CW. Her response was magnanimous and she whole-heartedly said it would be fine. I said I would write something for her approval. I did, and the article appeared in issue # 8 for 2004. As soon as that Keynote reached the FISTS membership, applications to join the NAQCC increased dramatically and on January 31, 2005 just a couple months after the article we signed up member # 720. We owe Nancy a great deal of thanks for her help in getting ourselves firmly established.

Over the following years, Nancy often asked me how the NAQCC was coming along, and always encouraged me to mention the club in my column whenever I wished. Just as one example, in 2007 for issue # 9/10 I provided a history of the NAQCC to that time.

Once again timidly (as one does when they approach someone they admire and respect as I did Nancy) I asked her if she would consider offering a free one year FISTS membership or renewal as a prize for the NAQCC member who participated in the most NAQCC sprints and challenges during the year. With no hesitation at all, she agreed to do so, and has done so since 2007.

To close this brief tribute to a wonderful lady, I want to add that I will miss you very much. Although I regret we never met in person, we had extensive communications via email and had 8 contacts on the ham bands. I feel I can say we became good friends as we both had similar ideas of the best ways to promote CW. RIP Nancy.

Now the subject turns to the best way the NAQCC as a whole can express their thanks to Nancy and sympathy to her remaining family. Please check the FISTS web site to see the family's wishes for sympathy cards and other relative info. As for the thanks, I feel the best way to say thanks and honor Nancy's memory is to do whatever we can to help FISTS to continue as she would want it. I would suggest that if you are not a FISTS member that you join this wonderful club. If you are a member, continue to renew your membership and participate in all of the FISTS activities. Again see the FISTS web site for details during this time of transition. I'm sure it will bring a huge smile to Nancy similar to the one pictured above from a Keynote magazine cover as she looks down to see 'her' club continue and grow.

Note: The FISTS web site is at http://www.fists.org/. The referenced Keynote columns can be found at http://home.windstream.net/johnshan/cw_ss_column.html.

That was my brief tribute to Nancy. The picture mentioned was the lovely one from a Keynote cover which was shown in the NAQCC newsletter.

I can only hope that the wonderful relationship between NAQCC and FISTS will continue under new leadership. I have already been assured that my column will continue to be published in the Keynote. Also that the membership prize mentioned above will continue.

FISTS and the NAQCC together are having an "Honoring Nancy Month" this September. There will be a special sprint on September 2 (the six-month anniversary of her passing), and a month long challenge. Briefly the challenge is an NAQCC-style alphabet challenge with words relating to Nancy and FISTS (NANCY KOTT WZ8C FISTS, etc.) For those not familiar with the NAQCC alphabet challenges, they consist of making words related to a certain topic from the letters (and sometimes numbers) in the calls of stations worked during one entire month.

I would also like to say thanks to Nancy and FISTS for always remembering me at Christmas with a nice gift, as well as waiving my membership dues as 'payment' for writing my column. However I would have been just as happy to do it without those perks. I only mention this to show again what a kind and generous person Nancy was.

To close, I urge the membership to make FISTS what it was before the fire and Nancy's illnesses. Let's bring the .058 frequencies alive again with CQ FISTS, something that has been lacking lately.

As always, I welcome feedback on these columns via email at johnshan@windstream.net. Thank you.