Ralph O. Williams, 1920-2002
Reported by Ludwell Sibley
Ralph Williams, the country's leading expert on the Atwater Kent company and it's radios, was born in 1920. After serving in WWII as a radar officer, he graduated from Northeastern University in engineering in 1947 and later attained a masters degree. He had a career in electronics with General Electric, first in the broadcast equipment area and then in missile guidance systems. He began collecting radios in 1958. While living in the Philadelphia area, he developed a strong interest in former radio manufacturers in the vicinity like RCA Victor and especially AK.
Williams developed a superb collection of Atwater Kent documentation and receivers, particularly breadboards. From this, he wrote profusely on AK company history, radios and speakers: 14 articles in Antique Radio Classified, four articles in and one complete issue of the AWA Review, and a 37-part series in Radio Age.
He was a founder, president and board member of the Antique Radio Club of America. Ralph and his wife Elinor for many years organized the equipment contests at the annual AWA conference. He and the late Bruce Kelley were the only holders of the AWA Houck Award for both preservation and documentation.
Williams was a radio amateur with Extra Class license N3VT and remained active in the areas of VHF repeaters and license coordination until recently.