Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

November 20th, 2009:

Harry L. Helms 1952-2009

I got word the other day that Harry L. Helms W5HLH had died this past Sunday. Harry was a friend for over 20 years, and we met regularly at trade shows including the Borland conferences and ABA/BEA, just to touch base and trade ideas. He and I had a lot in common: We were both longtime hams, we both liked classic radio gear, shortwave listening, and publishing. (We were also within a few weeks of the same age.) He was the co-founder of HighText Publishing in Solana Beach, California, and the author of a lot of books worth reading, including Shortwave Listening Guidebook (1993), How to Tune the Secret Shortwave Spectrum (1981), Top Secret Tourism (2007) and Inside the Shadow Government (2003), which may be the scariest book I’ve ever read. He published Andrew Yoder’s Pirate Radio (1996) which is best-of-breed on the history of that insane little cross-current in the mostly placid waters of the radio broadcasting industry.

His passing was nothing out of the blue: He had blogged about his struggle with cancer for several years, and displayed a species of courage in the face of imminent death that I hope I can summon when my own time comes. His last months were spent in his home town in South Carolina, with his wife and family, and his dogs and cats all around him, and if we all have to make that final leap into the unknown, I’d be hard-pressed to think of a better way to do it.

Harry had a healthy scientific mind, and while not religious, he told me he was open to the possibility that death is not the end of all things. He enjoyed uncovering the hidden and the secretive and the overlooked (see Top Secret Tourism for a travel guide to all the places the government would just as soon nobody knew about) and I have an intuition that he was looking forward to seeing “what was out there.” In one of our last exchanges some months ago, I made an outrageous suggestion, about which I won’t say more unless something remarkable happens.

We’ve got his books, and for the time being, that’s remarkable enough for me. W5HLH DE K7JPD / TNKS GUD LK ES 73 SK.