It is with great sadness that we must report the passing of one of our long time members, Rick Vahan, N4PBF
Picture from Julio Ripoll, Architect WD4JR
Here is a copy of Rick's obituary, e-mailed by Melissa. Some of you may have already received this directly. It will be published in the Miami Herald.
VAHAN, Richard, 73, left us on February 28th after a short but courageous battle with leukemia. Beloved partner of 30 years to Melissa Merwin, cherished father of Julia Mikolis, Suzanne, Alex, Peter and Tatiana, adored grandad of Brittany and Julia. He was born on Oct 23, 1927 in New York City, the first of his Armenian family to be born in this country. He enlisted in the Army at the age of 17, working as a medic in Europe at the end of World War II, and returned as a disabled veteran. He attended Boston University on the GI Bill, graduating in 1951 majoring in journalism and biology. His first job was as a reporter for the Louisville Courier-Journal, traveling rural eastern Kentucky. He returned to New England with the Nashua Telegraph prior to joining the Boston Traveler, where he was cited for his reporting and editorial work from 1954-1965. During this time he became interested in the new sport of scuba diving.
He was a founding member of the Boston Sea Rovers at a time when enthusiasts cut and glued together their own first wetsuits. When New England Aquarium was being planned and built he was delighted to be invited to be one of the original 3 curators. He delighted in collecting specimens for this new facility, as well as producing photos, films and doing public relations. Based on this experience he was invited to become Curator of Education at Shedd Aquarium in Chicago where he stayed from 1968 to 1972. During this time he met his wife, Melissa, who was working at the Field Museum.
In 1972 he received a phone call from Jacque Cousteau who invited him to come to New York and ghostwrite "The Ocean World of Jacque Cousteau", a 20 volume work. He had previously published 2 books, "The Truth About the John Birch Society", and "Men Under Water". He then moved to Miami and started a small business, Aquatic Exploration, where he taught undergraduates oceanography and ecology on sailing trips to the Keys and Bahamas and on canoe trips in the Everglades.
In l980 he began to work in public relations for Dade County, initially at Vizcaya and then with the Office of Film and TV Coordination where he promoted Dade County as a film location. He helped build the industry, including projects such as Miami Vice, True Lies and Bad Boys. He was an inspiration to the local film industry and he attracted many projects which might not have filmed here. His work played a significant role in the exposure of the Miami area, which ultimately led to the renaissance of Miami Beach, a great deal of which was based on the film industry. He was known and beloved by directors, location managers, production coordinators, and production assistants.
He retired in 1994, but continued to do freelance location scouting and worked on a project to develop a large film studio in Miami. He became very active in the amateur radio community in Dace County. He was past Director of the South Florida FM Association and current president of the Dade Radio Club of Miami , and also a member of the Dade County Amateur Radio Public Service Corps. He was an active volunteer directing communications for the March of Dimes Walk-a-thon . He loved the excitement of volunteering at the National Hurricane Center. He was one of the main hurricane radio operators, who communicated with people on the Caribbean Islands during hurricanes. He received awards from the National Hurricane Center for his communications during Hurricane Georges and last month received an award for being one of the most active operators at the Hurricane Center.
Here's just one of many articles Rick wrote as the Public Information Officer for many of our clubs:
Rick was also very active with all of our Public Service events. In fact, he even helped us a few weeks ago at the 2001 Tropical Hamboree. He will be missed by all of us.