In Memoriam: Brian Kantor, WB6CYT (1953-2019)

Brian Kantor, WB6CYT, ARDC’s first board chair and CEO, became a Silent Key on November 24, 2019. A friend to many, it was Brian’s vision and leadership that has propelled ARDC to where it is today. Under Brian’s leadership, ARDC was founded as a nonprofit in 2011. Its primary goal was to ensure that 44Net, then known as AMPRNet, would always be a resource for amateur radio operators for experimentation with digital communications. As noted in ARDC’s application for nonprofit status, its activities were to include the stewardship and conservation of “scarce AMPRNet Internet protocol resources, and to educate network users on how to efficiently utilize these resources as a service to the entire Internet community.”

Brian Kantor, WB6CYT, with long-time colleague and Amateur Radio Digital Communications (ARDC) Board member KC Claffy, KC6KCC

Brian with long-time colleague and ARDC board member kc claffy.

Grants were also part of Brian’s vision. The application also noted that ARDC’s activities were to include “the issuance of grants and other financial support to educational institutions, foundations and other organizations.” To further this goal, Brian almost single-handedly negotiated a deal in 2019 to sell one-quarter of the 44Net address space and set up the endowment that ARDC now uses to fund its grant program. Although he was criticized by some at the time for this sale, there’s no argument that this grant program has proven to be a boon for amateur radio.

Personal history

Brian obtained his amateur radio license as a teen and was an enthusiastic radio amateur all his life. In addition to being involved in the creation and administration of the AMPRNet packet radio network, Brian was quite enthusiastic about repeaters. According to Phil Karn, KA9Q, ARDC’s current president and CEO, Brian had a garage full of Motorola gear, operated a repeater of his own, and was always ready to help others in and around San Diego with their repeaters.

He worked for the University of California, San Diego, for 47 years, retiring from the Computer Science and Engineering Department in 2018. Throughout his career, he was widely respected for his technical achievements, including the part he played in the development of the Network News Transfer Protocol (NNTP).

Brian had many friends who knew him as kind and reliable. On the surface, he could sometimes be gruff, but he certainly cared about people and was always ready to help in times of need. He threw great parties and was always up for dinner out. In addition to ham radio, he had many hobbies, including photography and videography, film and film history, naturism, programming, and fast cars. He loved all things Japanese and adored cats.

Brian is missed by many in the amateur radio community, but his legacy lives on. kc claffy, ARDC board member and Brian’s long-time friend, put it this way after reviewing the grants that ARDC has made in 2022: “I think that Brian would be so impressed by what ARDC has managed to accomplish in such a short time. I wish he were still here to see it and thank you all for helping him leave such a big mark on the world. And we’re only just getting started!”