Amateur Radio Operator

Arlene “Buddy” Clay 

KL7OT

Click Call Sign Above

SK 

 

Centenarian 103 Years Old

 Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame Member Arlene “Buddy” Clay, 

 

TAGS: air traffic controller, arrl member, Association, duty, Fame, Hall, HAM, net, village, work
 

03/18/2016


Arlene “Buddy” Clay, KL7OT, died on February 11. She was 103. An ARRL member, Clay was inducted into the Alaska Women’s Hall of Fame in 2015 for her work in rural justice administration among the Yup’ik people. She became a ham in 1948 and began calling the Thursday night Snipers Net for the Matanuska Amateur Radio Association, a duty she continued from her retirement community home until she died of a stroke.

In 1960, after having worked for years with her husband Earl, KL7EM, as an air traffic controller, she began a new career as a magistrate for the Alaska Court System, becoming responsible for 12 villages along the Kuskokwim, Yukon, and Iditarod rivers. She traveled from village to village by boat in the summer and by dog sled in the winter. In all, “Buddy” Clay spent nearly 70 years living in Alaska’s wilderness. She was profiled in the August 2013 issue of QST in the article "A Radio Voice in the Wilderness" by Brenda Plessinger, AL7LX.

 

 

Archives

L. Arlene “Buddy” Clay

1912
2015
Categories: 2015 Alumnae, Law

 

 

Arlene “Buddy” Clay

Biography

Arlene “Buddy” Clay was born in Gardiner Maine, Aug. 2, 1912, to Annie Mayne Palmer and Charles Gordon Palmer. She was raised in Mexico, Maine, and graduated from high school in 1929. She then entered the New England Conservatory of music. She graduated from there in 1934.

Arlene met Earl V. Clay at the conservatory and they married June 26, 1936. They then moved to Manchester, NH, where Earl was the conductor of the NH state symphony. Arlene played trumpet in the conservatory symphony orchestra.

After the war broke out and Pearl Harbor was bombed on the 7th of December 1941, the orchestra broke up. The older workers went into military work and the younger ones joined the military.

In December of 1943 Arlene and Earl left for Seattle by train in response to an ad from the Civil Aeronautics Administration, forerunner of the FAA. After arriving in Seattle, they received six months of training at Boeing field as aircraft communicators and controllers. The Army then flew her and Earl to Nome in a DC3. While in Nome they worked for the CAA as aircraft communicators and controllers. In September of 1944 they transferred to Aniak. Together, they spent 10 years driving dog teams all over the Aniak area. They visited trappers, prospectors and generally explored the rural area.

Upon arriving in Aniak, communication was limited to one telephone at the airport office. As soon as civilians were allowed to obtain ham radio licenses in 1948, Clay received her license, KL70T. To this day, Clay has continued to operate her ham radio and, in fact, commented that she selected her retirement home on the basis that “… they let me have my radio with me.”

Arlene and Earl resigned in 1947 from the CAA. Earl died in 1956.

After Earl died Arlene stayed at the homestead, which was about three miles upriver from Aniak. She took two jobs, one as a postal clerk and the other as secretary at the CAA. She commuted to work by dog team in the winter and by boat in the summer.

In 1960 Arlene became the magistrate for the Alaska Courts and was responsible for 12 of the surrounding villages. She served in this position for 17 ½ years. Magistrates had all the power of the U.S. Commissioner. It was during this time that defendants received the right to demand a jury for misdemeanor trials. This resulted in more travel for trials in the villages. The State troopers would fly to Aniak and fly over her cabin at the home site to alert her they were coming and she would get her boat or dog team ready and meet them in Aniak.

Arlene Clay was always known as Mrs. Clay. While she didn’t have a degree in law, it was not required at the time. She was known as a tough but fair magistrate judge. One story that circulated concerned a couple of attorneys that came out from Bethel for a hearing. They were dressed in blue jeans and had no ties. She told them that when appearing in her court they were to wear suits and ties or she would hold them in contempt. They got the message and dressed appropriately from then on. She always wore her robe and while court was held in her house in those early days, strict courtroom protocol was required.

Clay retired from the Alaska Court System in 1977 but continued to live in Aniak for many more years. In May, 2012 Clay received the Judge Nora Quinn Award from the Alaska Bar Association which “is presented to an individual Alaskan who has made an extraordinary or sustained effort to assist Alaska’s rural residents, especially its native population, overcome language and cultural barriers to obtaining justice through the legal system.” She was further honored at a reception in Aniak on June 27, 2012, with the dedication of the new courtroom in her honor. The program for this event referred to Clay as “the face of the Alaska Court System during the early years of statehood.”

In 2011, Clay moved to a Wasilla retirement home where she is able to put up her ham antennas, and she continues to participate every night on the ham sniper net. She checks everyone in each Thursday night.

Resources

“Aniak Courtroom Dedicated to Magistrate Clay” ,Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, July 14, 2012 “99-year-old Ham radio operator still tuned in”, Mat-Su Valley Frontiersman, Oct. 30, 2011 http://jukebox.uaf.edu/site7/p/378, Project Jukebox, Digital Branch of UAF Oral History Program, Judges of Alaska, Arlene Clay

Video Interview with Arlene Clay

Arlene Clay Interview 1 Arlene Clay Interview 2

PROJECT JUKEBOX
Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program

ARLENE CLAY


Born in 1912 and originally from Maine, Arlene Clay came to Nome, Alaska in 1944 with her husband, Earl, to work for the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) . In 1946, they moved to Aniak, Alaska to serve another two years with the CAA. They enjoyed life along the Kuskokwim River, so they made Aniak their home. Arlene served as Aniak’s magistrate from 1960 to 1977, and lived in a cabin on the Kuskokwim River for 67 years until her move to a retirement community in Wasilla in early 2011. In 2012, Arlene received the Judge Nora Guinn Award from the Alaska Bar Association honoring her service as a magistrate, and the Aniak Courtroom was named in her honor.

Arlene Clay died on February 11, 2016 at the age of 103. For more about Arlene Clay, see her obituary in the Alaska Dispatch News newspaper or a 2011 article about her and her interest in Ham radio in the Mat Su Valley Frontiersman newspaper.

Date of Birth:
Aug 2, 1912
Date of Death:
Feb 11, 2016
Arlene Clay appears in the following new Jukebox projects:
Judges of Alaska

 

Born in 1912 and originally from Maine, Arlene Clay came to Nome, Alaska in 1944 with her husband, Earl, to work for the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) . In 1946, they moved to Aniak, Alaska to serve another two years with the CAA. They enjoyed life along the Kuskokwim River, so they made Aniak their home. Arlene served as Aniak’s magistrate from 1960 to 1977, and lived in a cabin on the Kuskokwim River for 67 years until her move to a retirement community in Wasilla in early 2011. In 2012, Arlene received the Judge Nora Guinn Award from the Alaska Bar Association honoring her service as a magistrate, and the Aniak Courtroom was named in her honor.

Arlene Clay died on February 11, 2016 at the age of 103. For more about Arlene Clay, see her obituary in the Alaska Dispatch News newspaper or a 2011 article about her and her interest in Ham radio in the Mat Su Valley Frontiersman newspaper.

Magistrate Arlene Clay's Slideshow

Interview Title Abstract Archive #: Oral History Project Date of Interview
Magistrate Arlene Clay, Part 1

Arlene Clay was interviewed on January 25, 2012 by Karen Brewster and Barbara Hood at her apartment at the Primrose Retirement Community in Wasilla, Alaska. Arlene’s friend, John Murphy was also present at the interview. Originally from Maine, Arlene Clay came to Nome, Alaska in 1944 with her husband, Earl, to work for the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) . In 1946, they moved to Aniak, Alaska to serve another two years with the CAA. They enjoyed life along the Kuskokwim River, so they made Aniak their home. Arlene served as Aniak’s magistrate from 1960 to 1977, and lived in a cabin on the Kuskokwim River for 67 years until her move to Wasilla in early 2011.  In this interview, 99 year-old Arlene talks about her experience as a magistrate in rural Alaska. She talks about the types of cases she heard, where court was held, dealing with prisoners, getting called out to do investigations because there were no Alaska State Troopers available, how she got along with the community, what life was like in Aniak, and how she felt rural justice worked in Alaska.

2012-02-05_PT.1 Judges of Alaska Jan 25, 2012
Magistrate Arlene Clay, Part 2

This is a continuation of the interview with Magistrate Arlene Clay on January 25, 2012 by Karen Brewster and Barbara Hood at her apartment at the Primrose Retirement Community in Wasilla, Alaska. Arlene’s friend, John Murphy was also present at the interview. This is a continuation from tape number Oral History 2012-02-05, Part 1. In this part of the interview, Magistrate Clay talks about changes in Alaska's justice system, challenges and joys of being a magistrate, and working with other people in the court system.

2012-02-05_PT.2 Judges of Alaska Jan 25, 2012

 

MAGISTRATE ARLENE CLAY'S SLIDESHOW

 

Amazing Story

Alaskan Amateur Radio Operator 103 Year Old  

written by

AL7LX Alaska flag Alaska

BRENDA L PLESSINGER

 

 

Click Link Image Below 

 

 

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