It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of a great friend, colleague and fellow ham radio operator. Dr. Ronald A. Parise, WA4SIR, left this Earth today, Friday May 9, 2008 after a very long and courageous battle with cancer.
Ron Parise was--and continues to be--an inspiration to countless students, ham radio operators, and friends the world over. His accomplishments were many, including: space explorer, pioneer, astrophysicist, pilot, ham radio operator, avionics and software expert, inspirational speaker and motivator, student satellite mentor, husband, father, and friend. While he certainly did some truly extraordinary things in his lifetime, Ron Parise is best known and cherished for keeping family and friends first and for this, we will miss him most.
Ron flew as a payload specialist on two Space Shuttle missions: STS-35 on the Space Shuttle Columbia in December 1990 and STS-67 on the Space Shuttle Endeavour in March 1995. These two missions, called ASTRO-1 & 2 respectively, carried out Ultraviolet and X-ray astronomy observations. He logged over 614 hours and 10.6 million miles in space. Ron and his crew members on ASTRO-1 became the first astronomers to operate a telescope from space, making hundreds of observations during the mission. His personal contributions to these two missions have provided scientists with an unprecedented view of our universe, expanding our understanding of the birth, life and death of stars and galaxies.
Ron was also the ultimate ham radio operatorin space and on the ground. First licensed when he was 11, Ron kept the amateur radio hobby at the forefront of everything he didincluding his operations from space. During his two Space Shuttle flights, he talked to hundreds of hams on the ground, giving new meaning to the phrase the ultimate DX-pedition. He was instrumental in guiding the development of a simple ham radio system that could be used in multiple configurations on the Space Shuttle. As a result, his first flight on STS-35 ushered in the frequent flyer era of the Shuttle Amateur Radio Experiment (SAREX) payload. He was the first ham in space to operate packet radio. And his flight pioneered the telebridge ground station concept to enable more schools to talk to Shuttle crew members despite time and orbit constraints. In his two shuttle flights, he inspired countless students to seek technical careers and he created memories at the schools and communities that will never be forgotten.
Rons love for the amateur radio hobby and his love of inspiring students continued well beyond his two Shuttle flights. During the formation of the Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS) program, Ron was a tremendous resource to the newly forming international team. I know of many instances where Rons wisdom and sage advice was instrumental in helping our international team resolve issues when we reached critical technical or political roadblocks. And he was a key volunteer in the development of the ham radio hardware systems that are now on-board ISS. The ARISS team is deeply indebted to WA4SIR for his leadership, technical advice and tremendous vision.
Ron worked hand-in-hand with the students at the Naval Academy and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University on the development of their student satellites. He helped develop Radio Jovea student educational project to listen to the radio signals emanating from Jupiter. And he spoke at numerous schools over the years, inspiring them to pursue careers in science, math and technology.
I feel blessed to have had Ron as a friend, colleague, ham buddy and mentor. He gave so much, cheerfully, to our collective hobby and was always there with the right answer no matter the topic. I will miss him dearly.
In an effort to continue Rons tireless work to inspire the next generation, the Parise family has set up a scholarship fund in Rons honor. The scholarship is for students pursuing technical degrees at Youngtown State University, where Ron received his Bachelors of Science degree. In lieu of flowers, those interested are welcome to send donations to the Dr. Ronald A. Parise Scholarship Fund, Youngstown State University, One University Plaza, Youngstown, Ohio 44555.
On behalf of AMSAT and the ARISS International team, I would like to extend our collective condolences to the Parise family and to all Rons friends. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
And to Ron Parise, WA4SIR SK: Our sincerest 73's and 88's may your exploration spirit live on in us all!!
Frank H. Bauer, KA3HDO AMSAT-NA V.P. for Human Spaceflight Programs Chairman, ARISS International