George Edward Ransford
July 28, 1927 - January 31, 2019
Born on July, 28, 1927 in Rockford, Illinois, George Edward Ransford passed away peacefully at home on Thursday, January 31, 2019 in the presence of his loved ones. He is survived by his beloved wife Lorraine Margaret Dilling Ransford, his four daughters, Linda M. (Scott) Fisher, Germantown, TN., Kathryn J. Ransford, Indianapolis, Susan K. Ransford, Glendale, AZ., Carolyn L. (Kevin) Schiferl, Zionsville, IN, and four grandchildren, Lauren Marie Fisher, Sarah Schiferl (Blake) Angelino, Eric Ransford (Sarah) Schiferl, and Nathan Edward Fisher.
George was raised in the small, railroad crossroads town of Davis Junction located northwest of Chicago in Illinois. His father, who drove an ammunition truck in World War I France and survived many gas attacks, operated The General Store near the rail junction. George was raised in the home above the store. He enjoyed school, sports, outdoor activities, and swing music. He also worked hard on neighboring farms and in his father’s store. George excelled in basketball and played on his high school varsity basketball team, and was the president of his class. He learned to play the saxophone and organized his own swing band that played many venues in central Illinois. He and his father made many trips to the boundary waters area of Northern Minnesota to fish for walleye, bass, and northern pike. He learned to love fishing in northern Minnesota so much that as an adult he took his family and business associates fishing and house-boating there every summer for decades.
When George graduated from Stillman Valley High School just before his 18th birthday, he joined the Navy and was promised a position in a Navy band because of his expertise in saxophone. However, because of a Navy SNAFU, he was sent to Hollywood, California to become a Navy recruiter. With the end of the war, he was sent to San Francisco to discharge Navy officers, and then soon he was discharged himself.
George returned to Davis Junction, took courses in electrical and electronics engineering at The University of Illinois, and became intensely interested in power systems, lighting, and radio. He also became interested in a very pretty young woman named Lorraine who lived on a nearby farm and worked in one of the area’s restaurants. Lorraine was interested in chemistry and wanted to be a chemist, but that college major and career path were not available to women at that time, so she became a dietitian. George and Lorraine were married in the summer of 1950 and celebrated their 68th wedding anniversary last year.
Shortly after the wedding, Lorraine found a dietitian position in Indianapolis, so the young couple moved to Indiana. Working in a grocery store, George wanted a more challenging job, so he went downtown to the Indianapolis Power and Lighting Company (IPL) and told the receptionist that he had an appointment with the President. Even though there was no appointment, George marched into the President’s office and told him that IPL needed to hire him immediately as a lighting engineer. The President agreed and George went to work for IPL where he even won an employee suggestion contest (and a $25 prize no less!) with his bright idea to light the windows of the company headquarters on Monument Circle in colored light patterns to encourage consumers to use lighting in their own home décor. This became an Indianapolis tradition still enjoyed today.
In 1960 the Ransfords moved to their current home on the north side and joined Pilgrim Lutheran Church. For many decades, George was an usher and Lorraine led the Braille Bible group at Pilgrim. George and Lorraine started their family with adopted daughters Linda and Kathy. Very soon thereafter, Lorraine gave birth to daughters Susan and Carolyn. With four young daughters, George needed to grow his career, so he left IPL and became a manufacturers’ representative for power and lighting systems. George sold power and lighting all over the Midwest, while Lorraine stayed home with the girls, managing the office, drafting drawings and proposals, and running the books. The Ransfords put three daughters through Purdue University. Daughters Linda and Carolyn were married at Pilgrim by Pastor Paul Schumacher.
Somehow, the Ransfords also found time for recreation. Both George and Lorraine became pilots and they owned their own airplane. They went fishing and boating in Minnesota regularly, and they had a house full of pets including dogs, cats, tropical fish, turtles, hamsters, and birds. They also operated a sleep-in-cabin sailboat on Monroe Lake near Bloomington. George became an amateur radio operator in 1953, ultimately obtained the Advanced FCC license, and built the world class W9VMT radio station in his home. He has networked with many thousands of people around the world including famous radio operators like Barry Goldwater, Arthur Godfrey, Air Force General Curtis LeMay, swing saxophonist Tex Beneke, and Jordan’s King Hussein, and even guitarist Joe Walsh of The Eagles.
George finally retired from his electrical systems sales business in 1997 and spent his time taking care of the family and the pets, sailing on Lake Monroe, building model trains, and networking with his radio friends on the amateur radio airwaves. George participated in a network of radio operators on 3.710 MHz every day at 9:00 am and 5:00 pm. At night he joined a group of electronics specialists on Skype. He always kept up with the latest communications and computer technology. Last year at the age of 90 he upgraded his station with the latest and most advanced radio equipment! And, yes, even in his late 80s, George was one of those early adopters standing in line outside the Apple store to buy Steve Jobs’ newest product.
George Ransford was a hardworking, faithful, loving, and dedicated Christian, husband, father, and friend who exemplified strong tenacity through the end. George will be in our hearts and minds forever. God Bless George E. Ransford, W9VMT!
73 Old Man
(73 is the old telegrapher’s code for “Goodbye”)
(In the telegraphy/radio world, a male operator is an Old Man and a
female operator is a Young Lady)