My Mentor – Uncle Albert “Al” Parker : The Original N4AQ

Albert “Al” Parker, formally N4AQ, sparked my interest in electronics and amateur radio at a very young age. I have always been the curious type. Knowing that “things just work” wasn’t enough. I had to know how they worked. My sister and I had spent the weekend with our grandparents. We were out shopping on that Saturday afternoon and my grandmother had to stop by to see her brother, Uncle Albert, at his TV/Radio repair shop. For the younger readers out there, this little adventure of ours took place in the late ’70s and those types of shops were common place in those days. While in the back of his shop, I could see inside of all kinds of TVs and stereos. On the work bench there were so many gadgets, I had no idea what any of them could possibly be used for. He was very eager to show me around and explain what he did in the shop. This was my introduction to the fascinating world of electronics. It was a lot to take in and I really had no clue of what most of it meant. All I knew was that I was drawn to it and spent months secretly peeking inside of anything electronic around the house. Unfortunately, some of those devices, as well as my freedom to watch TV and play with my friends didn’t fair well. I didn’t know where to find any information on this stuff. It was the ’70s, no Internet. But one day at the library, I stumbled across a section of books (621.38 was the magic number) and right there on the cover of these books were all of those electronic parts that Uncle Albert showed me. I was hooked. I lived in those books for years learning all about electronics and especially ham radio. I couldn’t wait to see my uncle so that he could see how much that I had learned and found out that he was a ham. I was actually related to a ham radio operator. That was it. Thanks to this man, my life’s goal at that time was to become a licensed amateur radio operator just like my uncle, N4AQ. It took a number of years, but I did finally get my license, originally KE4RVB. By that time Uncle Albert had moved down to Florida and the only time I really got to see him was during our family reunion each summer. I always looked forward to seeing him. We would spend all afternoon talking about the hobby, all the new additions to the shack and the different contests I worked over the past year. Eventually, I got my Extra ticket as AG4EG and Uncle Albert was so happy to hear it. But I was cleverly labeled an “Extra Lite” because I got my ticket just after FCC dropped the code requirements for that class down to 5wpm. What can I say, code’s not my strong point.

Uncle Albert passed away on January 24th, 2017 at the age of 87. I recently found out that his oldest son, who also goes by Al, became a licensed radio operator, K4ALP. I talked with him a couple of days after Uncle Albert passed away to let him know what an impact his father had on my life. We talked about his father’s call sign. He said that he wanted to keep K4ALP and that since Uncle Albert meant so much to me, he asked if I would like to take his call sign. On May 9th of this year, FCC granted my application to change my call and I am very proud to now be N4AQ. It is an honor to keep his call alive in
our family and on the air hopefully for many years to come. I will miss you Uncle Albert. Thank you so much for all that you have done for us all. 73