Dayton leader of world’s largest gathering of radio amateurs dies

Ronald Eugene Cramer, who was known for his leadership in moving the Dayton Hamvention from the former Hara Arena to the Greene County Fairgrounds, died Saturday, March 11.

He was 75.

A native of Dayton, Cramer was born on Aug. 15, 1947, to parents Donald and Delight (Brooks). He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Liz (Ann Mergler) Cramer. Liz describes her husband as “the nicest man I’ve ever met.”

“He was easygoing and very patient, though not a pushover,” she said.

Liz met Ron in the early 1970s while they both worked for the Siebenthaler Company. Soon after he retired from the company in 2009, Ron immersed himself into the world of amateur radio.

“This sort of came out of the blue to me, but he said he’d been thinking about it for a long time,” Liz said. “He had such a wonderful time ... he was really able to spread his wings and fly, and I was so pleased that he had that opportunity.”

Ron served as the vice president and president of the Dayton Amateur Radio Association, and was chairman of Dayton Hamvention, toted as one of the world’s largest annual gatherings of radio amateurs, from 2017 to 2018.

According to DARA President Jack Gerbs, Cramer played a crucial role in the 2017 relocation of the Hamvention to its current venue at the Greene County Fairgrounds and Expo Center in Xenia, after previously being held at Hara Arena for more than five decades.

“I was the assistant general chair of Hamvention, and Ron’s assistant, the year we moved it to Xenia,” Gerbs said. “It was a stressful time, but it was also a very exciting time for the team.”

Gerbs said Cramer’s dedication to the amateur radio community is unparalleled.

“There is no way Ron can ever be replaced. He was a hardworking, dedicated, wonderful person who had a positive impact on everyone he encountered,” he said. “His only fault was he would never say no.”

Cramer was also involved in volunteering with the national association for amateur radio in the U.S., the American Radio Relay League.

“Ron was a good friend of ARRL, and one of the kindest and most committed member-volunteers I’ve known throughout my years in amateur radio,” said ARRL Director of Marketing and Innovation Bob Inderbitzen. “Ron supported many years of ARRL’s participation at Hamvention. Most recently, he coordinated Hamvention’s interest in hosting the 2024 ARRL National Convention. He’ll be close in the hearts and minds of many of us as the convention is planned. I’ll miss him dearly.”

Cramer is also survived by his sister Pam (Steve) Underwood, brother Jody (Diana) and many cousins, nephews and nieces.

Cramer was buried at Woodland Cemetery. The family requests friends of Cramer’s send flowers to someone you love or make a donation to your favorite charity or scholarship fund to honor his memory.

About the Author