Club Founder Merrill Budlong, W1MB
Merrill Peckham Budlong, W1MB, was born in Arlington, New Jersey on May 21, 1912. He was a resident of Rhode Island from the age of two and of the Edgewood section of Cranston since 1918. An active, athletic man, as a teenager, Mr. Budlong made his own surfboards and sailing kayaks. In high school and college he was on the wrestling teams, played trumpet in dance bands, and was a lifeguard at Bonnet Shores. He graduated from Cranston High School in 1931 and from the University of Rhode Island in 1935 with a Bachelor’s degree in Business. He was a member of Phi Mu Delta fraternity and Phi Kappa Phi honor society.
He was a member of the Narragansett Bay Wheelmen and, into his 70s, participated in bicycle races and 100-mile rides. He was often seen riding his bicycle around Edgewood and Pawtuxet Village. He was a pioneer skin diving and spear fishing enthusiast. In the 1940s he built much of his own equipment before it was commercially available. In 1964, he speared a ten foot great white shark in Narragansett Bay. He was also a frostbite sailor, member of the Edgewood Yacht Club, and member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. He was owner/operator of Budlong Marine Radio in Pawtuxet Village. During World War II, he held a second job at Kaiser Shipyard in Providence.
As an avid amateur radio operator and proficient Morse Code operator, he enjoyed contacting other amateur radio operators throughout the world. His original call sign was W1QLD, which he later changed to W1MB. He founded the Fidelity Amateur Radio Club in the early 1960s, and it became an ARRL affiliated club in 1966. He was a Major in the R.I. Civil Air Patrol and a Director of the New England Wireless and Steam Museum. Mr. Budlong was an alumnus of Fidelity Chapter DeMolay in which he was a Chevalier.
Merrill was an “Elmer” to dozens of new amateur radio operators. Club meetings were held in Merrill’s basement shack, where many projects were built, and where Merrill taught young Hams essential skills like soldering, wiring, and radio construction. A number of amateur radio operators who were taught by Merrill are still members of Fidelity A.R.C. to this day. Our club proudly holds Merrill’s call sign W1MB, and we humbly attempt to uphold the high standards set by our beloved founder. Merrill passed away July 21st, 2007 at the age of 95 years old.
- Portions of the above courtesy of The Providence Journal