Robert Glenn Misenheimer

Published 1:33 am Sunday, November 23, 2008

Robert Glenn Misenheimer

03/16/1906 – 11/15/2008

On March 16, 1906, in Laddonia, Mo., Robert Glenn Misenheimer was born of humble beginnings. He was second oldest in a family of six siblings. At an early age, his mother moved the family to Albemarle, N.C. Bob, along with one older and one younger sister, were placed in the Thomasville Baptist Orphanage due to the difficult economic times of that day. In those early years, he worked in everything from a newspaper print shop to laborer in a battery shop. Growing up, he was placed into different foster homes throughout Central N.C. He never spoke of these early times in his life.

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At the age of sixteen, he developed Tuberculosis and as was the custom then, he was placed in the State Sanatorium. He received the treatment and amazingly survived. During this time, he developed a burning desire to read. This desire lasted until his eye sight began failing in recent years. He received his high school diploma in 1927 at the age of 21. By this time, the theory of electricity and early radio became his passion. He rode the train from Albemarle to New York City armed with seventeen dollars, cardboard suitcase, and the desire to educate himself. He attended Columbia School of Broadcasting, the RCA Institute, and the Marconi School of Morse Code. He became a Shipboard Radio Operator and for a time sailed the high seas with both the Luxembourg Line and the Dollar Steamship Line.

His interest in radio by now had become so broad that he obtained his Amateur Radio License. His original “Ham” license was signed by Herbert Hoover, then Secretary of Commerce, who later became the 31st President of the United States. Bob’s radio call sign was W4YKI.

Bob returned to New York and worked for the pre-television era stations of WABC, WNBC, and WCBS. Eventually leaving New York around 1932-33, he returned to N.C., and in 1934 helped move WRAM radio station from Wilmington, N.C., to the rooftop of the Washington-Duke Hotel in downtown Durham, complete with new call letters, WDNC.

He settled in Durham and opened a Radio Repair Shop, which he maintained until the outbreak of World War II. During this period, he met and married Evelyn Pittman and served in the Navy as a Radio Operator and Electrical Theory Instructor, again in New York City.

The wanderlust and adventure never left him. He went to Delray Beach, Fla., in the late Forties to build and start Radio Station WDRB, but ties to family brought him back to Durham, N.C., for a time. A few years later, in 1952, he built another radio station, WCRE, in Cheraw, S.C., but again, family ties brought him home to Durham. This time, as he held a First Class Radio Repair Certificate, he joined a team of personnel to build and operate the new television station WTVD. At one point in his life, he “moon-lighted” for radio stations WDNC, WPTF, WCHL, WTIK, and WSSB. He remained there until the late Sixties and then began a new career teaching Electricity and Electrical Theory at Durham Technical Institute. During this period, he joined and operated a Military Affiliate Radio System (MARS). Bob passed messages to soldiers and loved ones for more than thirty years, all for free. He also thrilled many by teaching Morse code to aspiring Amateur Radio Operators.

At the age of 97, he entered another new era of his already full life. He resided at Eno Pointe Assisted Living Facility the remaining five years of his life. He continued to operate an active Ham Radio Station in his room and taught Morse code to anyone that ask and some that didn’t. He was known for his openness and ability to sing a song one had never heard, or recite poetry to cheer people. Even in his last days, he could make you smile.

The family would like to acknowledge the staff of Eno Point Assisted Living Facility for the comfort and care they gave to Bob. They watched over him as if he were their own.

Bob was preceded in death by: his parents, Luther Calvin and Arabell Furr Misenheimer; his wife, Evelyn Pittman Misenheimer; four sisters, and one brother.

He is survived by: sons, Bobby (Rhonda) Misenheimer of Wilmington, N.C., and William (Frances) Misenheimer of Carriere, Miss.; and one granddaughter, Evelyn Misenheimer of Wilmington.

In lieu of flowers, a donation to the Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL), 225 Main Street, Newington, CT 06111, in memory of Robert Glenn Misenheimer, W4YKI, or to a charity of your choice is appreciated.

Memorial services will be held at a later date.