Some HISTORY of the Hellgate Amateur Radio Club (also the Missoula Amateur Radio Club and Missoula Area Repeater Klub)

As far as we can find records, the Hellgate ARC was first founded about 1930 as the Missoula Amateur Radio Club. The club’s first call sign is W7BII .  However, the ARRL issued to the club a 25 year Certificate of Affiliation in May 5, 1950.  The club has been active since. An initial member was W7PX , Phil Coulter.  Phil held his first license, 7PT , in 1923. The longest active club member is W7IPB . Bob Williams.  Bob was first active as a Hellgate ARC member in 1957.  Way to go and thanks, Bob! From the Missoulian, circa 1960:

The granddaddy of the Hellgate Radio Club, then know as the Missoula Amateur Radio Club, held its first meeting March 11, 1931.  A. L. Smith was the first president, with J. M. Hamilton vice president and A. T. Phelps secretary-treasurer.  The charter membership was 19. Hoping to interest some of the high school and University boys in amateur radio, the club built its won station and install it with the club call of W7BII. With the exception of the war years, the club steady grew to its current membership of near 100.  It is an active club with meetings held the second Friday of each month and a monthly paper, the “Hellgate Static.

Annual HARC Dues – $1.50 in 1962, $5.00 in 1988, $18.00 in 1990, $25.00 in 1992 and jumping to the current $35.00 in 2016.   

The Missoula Area Repeater Klub (MARK) was formed in the 1970’s.  It sole purpose was to establish and maintain a system of VHF repeaters.  A newsletter was published at least during 1974.  It became apparent in the later 1980s that members completing administrative functions and field work were the same members of MARK & HARC, combining the clubs was proposed.  This combination became official by vote of and a combined new constitution was approved in 1989.  The latest HARC Constitution was approved in 2002.  

Call Sign

From a few  accounts, the Hellgate ARC was originally known as the Missoula Amateur Radio Club. Its first call sign was W7BII . Then in the 1970-early 80s, the club call sign was WB7SFL. With the arrival of the FCC regulation allowing clubs to apply for special call signs, a couple of club members recognized the possibility of obtaining long standing member Phil Coulter’s call sign, W7PX. After pursuing the thought with Phil’s daughter, Helen Coulter Smith, the Hellgate ARC received in May 1986 an approval letter.In part it read;

“My father, the late Phil Coulter, W7PX was a long time and very active member of the Hellgate Amateur Radio Club. He attended most all club meetings and functions, held offices and became over the years the Hellgate ARC’s leader in business procedure. Phil’s first call sign was 7PT. He later became W7PX, a call admirably recognized by many club members. To honor Phil’s long time contribution to the Hellgate Amateur Radio Club and to the general amateur radio community, as you have mentioned, club members would be honored to secure the call sign, W7PX .I do hereby give my consent for the Hellgate Amateur Radio Club to secure as their club call sign, the call sign of my father, W7PX in accordance with the FCC vanity call sign program.”
Suspected from the Missoulian, date unknown.

After the application was approved by the FCC, the Hellgate ARC received W7PX as its call. The current trustee of the license is K7MSO, Mike Leary.

Club Officers

The Hellgate ARC term of office for many years was June through May.  Term of office changed to February of each year in 1989 and in January in 2002. The following list approximates the officers as of February of each year.  This list is compiled from old Hellgate STATICs where officers were included or from a historical listing in the HARC archives.  Multiple entries during a year occurred mostly as a result mid-term replacement due to moving from the area or illness.  If you can fill-in any of the blanks, please let the club’s webmaster know. Thanks to all these current and previous officers!

Year President Vice-President Secretary/
2024 NZ7S Eric Sedgwick W7RPG Dale Baldwin K7MSO Mike Leary
KJ7YHG Jim Ramsey
2023 NZ7S Eric Sedgwick K7MTD David Herzberg K7MSO Mike Leary
W7XT Dick Walton
2022 N7PAS Paul NZ7S Eric Sedgwick Joe AG7FH
W7XT Dick Walton
2021 K7MSO Mike Leary NZ7S Eric Sedgwick KC5WRA Donna/ Joe AG7FH
W7XT Dick Walton
2020 K7MSO Mike Leary NZ7S Eric Sedgwick KC5WRA Donna
W7XT Dick Walton
2019 K7MSO Mike Leary NZ7S Eric Sedgwick KC5WRA Donna/
K7MTD Dave Herzberg
2018 K7MSO Mike Leary NZ7S Eric Sedgwick KC5WRA Donna/
K7MTD Dave Herzberg
2017 K7MSO Mike Leary NZ7S Eric Sedgwick KC5WRA Donna/
N7GE Jerry Ehli
2016 K7MSO Mike Leary KE7BPU Wayne Weber KF7KEE Maggie &
KC5WRA Donna/
N7GE Jerry Ehli
2015 W7XT Dick Walton NZ7S Eric Sedgwick KF7KEE Maggie/
KC5WRA Donna/
N7GE Jerry Ehli
2014 NQ7D Lewis Ball / W7XT Dick Walton W7XT Dick Walton KF7KEE Maggie &
KC5WRA Donna/
N7GE Jerry Ehli
2013 NZ7S Eric Sedgwick NQ7D Lewis Ball KF7KEE Maggie &
KC5WRA Donna/
N7GE Jerry Ehli
2012 WG7P Elmer Myers N7PAS Paul Shuey WG7E Liz Myers
N7GE Jerry Ehli
2011 W7DWB Dan Boldra/
K7HP BJ French
NZ7S Eric Sedgwick AE7MH Michael Henry
N7GE Jerry Ehli
2010 WG7P Elmer Myers NZ7S Eric Sedgwick AE7MH Michael Henry
N7GE Jerry Ehli
2009 WG7P Elmer Myers W4YMA Bill Farrell KE7IZG Michael Leary
N7GE Jerry Ehli
2008 W4YMA Bill Farrell AC7UZ Lewis Ball  KE7IZG Michael Leary
N7GE Jerry Ehli
2007 N7GE  Jerry Ehli W7PAQ Frank Kisselbach KE7NO Craig Nelson
K7PX Steve Schlang
2006 N7GE  Jerry Ehli W7PAQ Frank Kisselbach AC7UZ Lewis Ball
K7PX Steve Schlang
2005 NN8A Byron Van Alstein NZ7S  Eric Sedgwick AC7UZ Lewis Ball
KK7UV Steve Flood
2004 NN8A Byron Van Alstein NZ7S  Eric Sedgwick AC7UZ Lewis Ball
KK7UV Steve Flood
2003 AC7UZ Lewis Ball NZ7S Eric Sedgwick KC5WRA Donna Pecastaing
W7DHB Dennis Barthell
2002 AC7UZ(KB7UNW) Lewis Ball NZ7S  Eric Sedgwick W7DHB Dennis Barthell
N7MSU Bob Henderson
2001 AC7UZ(KB7UNW) Lewis Ball NZ7S  Eric Sedgwick W7DHB Dennis Barthell
N7MSU Bob Henderson
2000  KC7RBC Jackie Harrington K7PX Steve Schlang N7TYS Walter Meigs
KA1YQE Richie Moore
1999 KC7RBC Jackie Harrington N7GE Jerry Ehli
1998 KC7RBC Jackie Harrington N7GE Jerry Ehli KB7UNW(AC7UZ) Lewis Ball
1997 N7TYS Walter Meigs KI7BR(NZ7S) Eric Sedgwick KA1YQE Richie Moore
KB7UNW(AC7UZ) Lewis Ball
1996 KI7BR(NZ7S) Eric Sedgwick N7TYS Walter Meigs KA1YQE Richie Moore
KB7UNW(AC7UZ) Lewis Ball
1995 KI7BR(NZ7S) Eric Sedgwick KI7WR Jim Lizotte N0UXX Parker Kelly
1994 KI7BR(NZ7S) Eric Sedgwick N7TYS Walter Meigs N7TAE Wayne Van Meter
1993 N7FMW Ruth Boydston (Scott) KI7BR(NZ7S) Eric Sedgwick KA7LEB Frank Irish
1992 WA7KHM(W7XY) Donne Fort N7PFG(NZ7S) Eric Sedgwick KA7LEB Frank Irish
1991 AA7FH(N7GE) Jerry Ehli KE7WR Kevin Goffe KA7LEB Frank Irish
1990 NZ7M Sid Frissell WA7KHM(W7XY) Donne Fort KA7LEB Frank Irish
1989 KE7WR Kevin Goffe   WA7W Morey Cambell KA7LEB Frank Irish
1988 N7IKI Tony Terzo KE7WR Kevin Goffe KA7LEB Frank Irish
1987 KE7LL Mike Moon
N7IKI Tony Terzo
KE7WR Kevin Goffe KA7LEB Frank Irish
1986 WA7GQO(K7YB) Bob Church
KE7NO Craig Nelson
KE7NO Craig Nelson
KE7LL Mike Moon
KA7LEB Frank Irish
1985 KC7ZO Danne Guthrie N7FMW Ruth Boydston (Scott) KA7LEB Frank Irish
1984 W7CII Dean Thorson WA7OPY Phil Richardson KA7LEB Frank Irish
1983 K7IMZ Jerry Nelson KY7I(W7ERV) Erv Davis KA7NVP(N7FMW) Ruth Boydston(Scott)
1982 WA7DEO(K7VK) Vick Applegate KV7T George Watson KA7LEB Frank Irish
1981 KA7DDV(K7BA) Bob Black KA7DEN Ellen Wojiechowski
1980 K7WNE Jon Sorenson K7IQA Bob Thrapp
1979 WA7IIQ(KB7P) Oscar Dooling WB7VPA Dan Schrodeder
1978 WA7QZD Frank Meyer
K7QA Tom Mc Ginley
K7QA Tom Mc Ginley
K7CHY(W7XT) Dick Walton
1977 WB4DAD/7 Skip Stem WA7ZOO Chuck Rafferty
1976 K7CHY(W7XT) Dick Walton WA7ZOO Chuck Rafferty
1964 W7FX Vern Peters K7MUM Jack Reich W7IPB Bob Williams
1963 K7IMZ Jerry Nelson W7IPB Bob Williams Kn7MGL Walter Sulier
1962 K7EBE Frank Bretz K7IMZ Jerry Nelson K7CVK Eugene Pearson
1961 W7OHQ Tom Hopkins
W7MAK Willard Smith
W7MAK Willard Smith
K7EBE Frank Bretz
W7NEG Milburn Parker
1960 W7JIZ Walt Polette K7IMZ Jerry Nelson K7IMZ Jerry Nelson
1959 K7CVK Gene Pearson W7EKB Ken Gordon KD7FS Don Anderson
1958 W7IOJ George Nickols K7EBE Frank Bretz
1957 W7EAM Francis Nickerson Not Known W7INC Pat Nickerson
1956 W7COH T.J. Rigby W7BNK Lee Pratt W7NEG Milburn Parker
1951 W7NPV Vernon Phillips W7CJB Woody Davey W7OOY Mrs Vernon Phillips
1950 W7NCS Mack Helman W7NEG Mel Parker W7JOI John Gregory
1949 W7ELY Harold Bennyhoff W7NCS Mack Helman W7JOI John Gregory
1931 A. L. Smith J. M. Hamilton A.J. Phelps

Member Memorable Radio Events

December 1983.   WA1JXN/7 (now W7GJ) , Lance Collister became the first amateur radio operator in the world to communicate with an astronaut in space.  Lance communicated with W5LFL , Dr. Owen Garriot while the Space Shuttle Columbia, STS-9, orbited the earth 250 nautical miles above the western Pacific.  The antenna, a home brew “moon bounce” two-meter array of 12 yagis. 

May 2006 .  N7TAE, Wayne Van Meter received in Washington DC,  the National American Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services award . 

History of The Hellgate Static

The Hellgate STATIC is first mentioned in a Missoulian article, circa 1960.  The Hellgate Static has been published nearly monthly every since.  Copies of the Hellgate STATIC dating back to the  early 1960s are in the HARC archives.  There are some month gaps over the years and we have no hard copy editions, 2000 to present.  Many, many Hellgate ARC members have contributed the newsletter over the years.  Several newsletter editors have thanked the numerous club members for their writing and publishing contributions. It also takes help in printing, addressing and mailing.  Thanks to all who have contributed.   Please let the club webmaster know if you have information on earlier editions or any updates on more current editions for the archive.  Here’s a listing of the newsletter editors we’ve been able to compile.  Multiple names per year indicate mid-year change of new editors, assistant editors or substitution editors.

The Hellgate Static Editors

Date Editor (s)
2024 Paul Shuey N7PAS
2023 Paul Shuey N7PAS
2022 Terry Cook KF7BQ / Paul Shuey N7PAS
2021 Terry Cook KF7BQ
2020 Terry Cook KF7BQ
2019 Terry Cook KF7BQ
2018 K7MSO Mike Leary/Terry Cook KF7BBQ
2017 K7MSO Mike Leary
2016 K7MSO Mike Leary
2015 K7MSO Mike Leary
2014 K7MSO Mike Leary
2013 K7MSO Mike Leary
2012 K7MSO Mike Leary
2011 K7MSO Mike Leary
2010 AE7MH Michael Henry
K7VK Vick Applegate
KF7ECS Betsy Gleason
K7MSO Mike Leary
2009 K7VK Vick Applegate
N7MSU Bob Henderson
AE7MH Michael Henry
2008 KE7NO Craig Nelson
2007 K7VK Vick Applegate
N7MSU Bob Henderson
KE7SHZ Andy Commons
2007 KE7NO  Craig Nelson
2007 KE7NO  Craig Nelson

KE7NO  Craig Nelson
NN8A Byron Van Alstein

2005 KE7NO  Craig Nelson
NN8A Byron Van Alstein
2004 NN8A  Byron Van Alstein
KE7NO  Craig Nelson
K2GQJ Tom Stock
2003 N7MSU  Bob Henderson
KD7SWH Jon Pielaet
2002 N7MSU  Bob Henderson
2001 Not Known
2000 Not Known
1999 KA1YQE  Richie Moore
K7PX  Steve Schlang
1998 K7VK(WA7DEO)  Vick Applegate
KA7YQE  Richie Moore
1997 K7VK(WA7DEO)  Vick Applegate
1996 N7VKY  Carol Brekke (Goffe)
K7VK(WA7DEO)  Vick Applegate
N7VKY  Carol Brekke (Goffe)
1992 WA7DEO(K7VK)  Vick Applegate
N7VKY  Carol Brekke (Goffe)
WA7DEO(K7VK)  Vick Applegate
1984 WA7DEO (K7VK) Vick Applegate
KC7ZO Danne Guthrie
1983 KC7ZO Danne Guthrie
1982 KA9HYO  Doug Decker
KC7ZO Danne Guthrie
1981 K7CHY(W7XT) Dick Walton
W7LUU Tom Wojciehowski
KA7DEN  Ellen Wojciehowski
1980 K7CHY(W7XT) Dick Walton
W7LUU Tom Wojciehowski
1979 K7CHY(W7XT) Dick Walton
W7KJA Bill Surratt
1978 K7CHY(W7XT) Dick Walton
W7KJA Bill Surratt
1977 W7KJA Bill Surratt
K7CHY(W7XT) Dick Walton
1976 W7KJA Bill Surratt
W7PX Phil Coulter
WA7VTD Kevin Hunt
WA7VTG Lar Autio
1964 W7GBH J. Syverson
1963 W7GBH J. Syverson
1962 W7MAK’s xyl  Jean Smith
1961 W7MAK’s xyl  Jean Smith
1960 W7MAK’s xyl  Jean Smith

Meeting Locations Over the Years

  • Missoula Firehouse #4
  • Missoula Public Library
  • St Patrick’s Hospital
  • American Redcross Office, West Broadway
  • NOAA, National Weather Service Office, Missoula Airport
  • City Fire Station #4 (Latimer St)
  • Western Federal Savings Bank
  • Southgate Mall 
  • Montana Power Company (Russell)
  • Univ of Montana Student Housing Rec Center
  • Airport Cafe
  • Old Forest Service Radio Station (Whittaker Dr.)
  • Missoula Electric Cooperative
  • Northwest Distributors
  • Grange Hall, Hamilton (annually)
  • Vern Peters Shop

Silent Keys


November 23. Dennis Barthel, W7DHB was a member of Hellgate Amateur Radio Club for many years, after retiring to the Missoula area. He was a valued supporter of many club activities and regular fixture at
HARC breakfasts on Saturday mornings. Always the cheerful gentleman, Dennis loved to share his time and knowledge, as a VE Examiner, HARC Treasurer, Field Day operator and much more. Born and raised in Hasen, ND, he was first licensed in 1951, as WN9OYC. He was trained as an electrical engineer at Valparaiso University, and his career in radio technology included service with ITT Laboratories, RCA, Rockwell, and Boeing. He was a Life Member of ARRL.


October 28. WB7VPA, Dan Schroeder, 86, an avid Hellgate ARC member for public service events especially the Tour of the Swan River Valley.

December 31. N7STM, Jerry Willis, 77, the good-natured smile of our Saturday morning breakfast gatherings. Jerry was a regular voice on the Tour of the Swan River Valley. He also spent many summers camping around and fishing the lakes in that area.


April 15. WA7ZOO Chuck Rafferty, 85, Long-time HARC member and volunteer examiner. A fine radio enthusiast, Chuck participated in Field Days, Special Events, Traffic Nets and as a Volunteer examiner at nearly 40 of HARC’s examination sessions in the late 1980s through the 1990s. Chuck served as HARC Vice President beginning in 1976 and was active for decades with the HARC. Chuck’s is a radio family, his XYL of 61 years: Betty KB7HUK, and his sons: Mike K7PTL, Denny N7PZY and Brian N7MAN.

2007 September 2. N7TAE, Wayne Van Meter.  Know for his magnitude of his public service and friendship, and quiet demeanor.  Wayne served in many service positions such as ARRL Assistant Montana  Section Manager,  he was also very active in the Hellgate ARC in club officer & committee positions and heading up numerous public service events.   He was always willing to help out or organize any event.  He helped administer nearly 100 amateur radio license examinations to over 500 candidates.   Wayne was also very active in actual emergency responses with the Red Cross, local wildfire agencies and National Weather Service. In 2006, Wayne’s was recognized nationally in Washington DC with an American Red Cross Armed Forces Emergency Services award .   It was a fitting award of how Wayne lived and assisted others.

2007 August 18W7VUF (x KA7SPI) , Dwayne Clark.  Dayne, an active supporter and public service participant with HARC in the late 1980s and through the 1990’s moved to Ogden Utah, but still returned several years in May/June to assist with the bicycle Tour of the Swan River Valley.  He was most notable on those events in his antenna adorned compact car with the yellow ‘caution’ light flashing away.  

2006 July 11K7MEA , Ervin Ball.  An early volunteer examiner, Erv was a frequent visitor to Missoula from his home in Libby, Montana to see friends and his son, AC7UZ, Lewis.  His wife NQ7D, Myrna became a silent key 1995.  Many of us remember Erv for his enthusiasm for ‘good deals’ especially related to ham radio.  

2005 November 29W5UEE , Ed Redlhammer, radio enthusiast and supporter of the Hellgate ARC.  A B17 & B24 pilot during WWII, Ed never gave up flying hobby that included his own planes, building kit aircraft and taking his last flight at age 82 over Northwestern Montana.   Ed’s family dedicated his HF & VHF radios to the Hellgate ARC to be used in the amateur radio hobby that Ed loved.  

2005 October 23.   WA7YYB , Chuck Weihe, one of HARC’s original life-members became a silent key on October 23, 2005.  Chuck, 91, had been active on HF & VHF for decades.   

June 29W7KJA , Ellis Surratt Sr, a long-time HARC member and officer.  Many remember Ellis as a hunting & fishing partner, a black powder and radio enthusiast. Others remember him as their electronics instructor at Missoula Vo-Tech. 

2003 November 17N7NUS , Don Householder.  Active HARC member and public service participant. A big guy with a big smile.   

2003 March 13KA1YQE, Richie Moore. Active HARC secretary, Hellgate Static editor and public service enthusiast.  Many remember Richie for his New England-Boston accent and his never ending discussions about the US Postal Service.  

2002 July 27. W7MAK, Francis “Smitty” Smith  A Pearl Harbor Survivor, a long time ham and member of HARC.  Even after moving to Washington state, Smitty continued to check into MTN.  

1998  December 29KB7AYK , Harriette Dooling.  xyl of KB7P, Oscar Dooling.  

1996.  November.  W7CII Dean Thorson past President and active HARC member.  

1994. JuneKV7T, George Watson long time supporter of the volunteer examiner program, Hellgate STATIC roster and mailing coordinator and avid public service participant.  

1994. FebruaryND7L , Norbert Kuffel.  HARC member and 2 meter FM enthusiast.  

1994 JanuaryKZ7N (WA7AFQ) Don Marshall.  Longtime Missoula resident and HARC member.  

1993 DecemberWA7VTT , John Collins.  Active HARC member, may be best remembered for his dedication to public service including for many years being “tail-end-charlie” rescuing tired bikers on the Tour of the Swan River Valley (TOSRV)

1991 March 23WA7VIK , Paul Applegate.  An active radio enthusiast, long-time Montana Traffic Net Control station and active public service participant. Paul lead a group of volunteers bringing the first Television from Spokane to Libby through a system of translators that continued for decades. Harmonic is K7VK(xWA7DEO), Vick and grandson, N7WKS, Rick.   

1990 OctoberW7DVK .  Jack Zeckman.  Longtime radio enthusiast, Jack received his first license in 1933.  He and his son placed the Missoula area’s first digipeater on Point Six. 

1988 April.   W7PX.  Phil Coulter’s radio enthusiasm spanned seven decades.  He held many HARC offices.  Phil was first licensed as 7PT.  He also held the calls, W7CAI & AAA8MT .  

1987 FebruaryKE7LL , Mike Moon.  Active Hellgate ARC officer, radio enthusiast and talented writer.  HIs fine articles were published in many magazines including QST . One of Mike’s successful visions was to get “Special Service Club” status for HARC.  HARC has maintained this status continuously since.  

1987 June 4.  Townsend (T.J.) Rigby.  W7COH   Early radio pioneer radio enthusiast. 

1985 NovemberW7FXV .  Ray Reid.  An early radio “home brewer”  and active member of HARC.   

1984 JanuaryKB7P , Oscar Dooling ( x-WA7IIQ ).  Active Hellgate ARC officer, radio enthusiast and volunteer examiner.  Many of the Hellgate STATICs are on file in the HARC archive as Oscar had the foresight to save them.  

1984 January.  Jean Smith, xyl of W7MAK , Smitty.  Jean was an avid Hellgate Static editor, a post she held for several years.  

1983 JuneW7NEG .  Milburn Parker.  Longtime radio enthusiast and HARC official.


Historical Stuff. …as soon as we can or find some who can remember it! Folks with information please send it to  Thanks.

Some History of the Names Hellgate and Missoula

Though we have no idea of how the selection of “Hellgate Amateur Radio Club” from the earlier “Missoula Amateur Radio Club” came about, Hellgate does have a unique history to the Missoula area.  The term “Hell Gate” was applied to the steep walled narrow canyon just on the East edge of Missoula that is filled by the Clark Fork River (previously the Missoula River).  Early French Canadian trappers termed it “Porte d’Enfer,” or Gates of Hell , due to the stories of ambushes on other Indian tribes by the Blackfeet.  The Blackfeet and Flat Head (Salish) Indians and maybe others were known to battle one another within the narrow canyon, a primary route East to the great plains of Eastern Montana and the vast herds of buffalo.  Captain Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark expedition traveled and camped near Missoula in July3 & 4, 1806 on his way East from their Western march to the Pacific Ocean.  He traveled beyond the Hell Gate and up the Blackfoot river to enter US Territory on the continental divide.   British explorer David Thompson also passed through this way in the early 1800s mapping the area.    In 1860, FL Worden & CP Higgins located a trading post about 4 miles West of current day Missoula calling it Hell Gate Village .   Missoula is derived from a Salish word (some would say corrupted),”Nemissoolatakoo” or “lm-I-sul-e with several meanings.  Commonly heard are ” by the shining waters” and “near the cold, chilling waters”.  The later, some attribute to the Indian conflicts within Hellgate Canyon. 

So, even though uncertainty remains about how we became the “Hellgate ARC”, we do know that the name is not the biblical gate to “hell” .  But rather, the name is tied to a significant Missoula geographic landmark with a rich history of those who passed through the Hell Gate.