More about the original W2LJ

This is going to be a long post. In our last episode, I was telling you all about the musings and thoughts I have had about the original W2LJ ...... who he was and what he was like.  The experience I have had over the past couple of days has just been amazing and more than I could ever have hoped for.

In my Google search, I had mentioned that Ed and Norma had a daughter. I also saw in the Google results that his daughter has a Facebook page. Not totally sure that I would be addressing the right person, I decided to send a Facebook message, anyway. I introduced myself and explained why I was contacting her. After all, I didn't want her to think that some creepy stranger from out of left field was contacting her for nefarious reasons. Lord, knows, we have enough of that, these days. Between scams, phishing and other evil intentions, I wanted his daughter to know this was harmless.

I didn't know what to expect, or even if I would ever get a reply. What happened next was one of the most gracious and kind exchanges from Carmen, Ted's (as he preferred to be known) daughter, and his grandson, Jon. Two of the most remarkable people who I am so glad to know, and will be eternally grateful to.

Carmen answered me via e-mail. (I have their permission to post - I would never do that without their consent):


Yes, I am the daughter (and only child) of Edward (Ted) Roscoe Swoffer who was a ham radio operator since adolescence.  He was born and brought up in Walnut Grove, Minnesota one of eight children. He signed up for duty in World War !! And served on submarine duty (Peto and the Albacore).  The Albacore was torpedoed shortly after he got off to marry my mom.  He studied Electrical Engineering at Penn State and worked for Singer Link in Binghamton for many years.  He and my mom (Norma) were amazing grandparents to my three children and I am so grateful.

My father was very quiet and humble, never boasting of his many accomplishments.   He was not very social, although well liked by all.  I am not sure what all those letters mean concerning his equipment etc.   I do have many of his postcards from far and near and would be glad to send you one.  Let me know if you have further questions and let me know your address if you want one of his postcards from other ham operators.  I donated a Morse Code machine and some other stuff to a local museum called Tech Works.

I look forward to your response!


Wow! I was floored! I was hoping for some kind of response and was so glad to receive such a warm and welcoming one!

I had cross posted to the site hoping that other folks who might have known Ted would offer some tid bits about him. His grandson Jon replied there:

Hi Larry – Thanks so much for your post and your curiosity. Ted Swoffer (“Pappy” to his grandkids) was my grandfather. He was a great one. So much I could share with you about him. He started building radios as a kid in Walnut Grove, Minnesota, had multiple tours of duty in the pacific theater in WWII as a radio/sonar guy aboard two USN submarines (USS Albacore and USS Peto), and after the war graduated from Penn State with an engineering degree. Joined Singer Link in Binghamton, NY as an aeronautical engineer, working on flight simulators for several warbirds. While I spent much of my childhood being fascinated with his many hobbies, he was a quiet man. And amateur radio remained something that he did by himself. Perhaps that’s why nobody else in the family continued the craft. I think he would be so pleased to know that his call sign lives on through you.

And Jon also sent me an e-mail:

Hi Larry - attached is a wartime photo of Ted Swoffer.  Also attached is a picture of a collage of post cards to W2LJ from all over the world that I made a few years ago.  

I’ll look through other things to see if I have any other W2LJ stuff I could send you

And also from Jon:

Larry - thanks for sharing!  Very cool to see the W2LJ license plate.  

Ted was a Morse coder like you.  You two would have had a lot in common. 

And here's the photos that both Carmen and Jon sent.


Ted, the original W2LJ was an amazing man! And to borrow a radio term, I found some resonance between him and my own Dad. Both faithfully and bravely served in the Armed Forces during WWII. While Ted was a Navy sonarman, my Dad's first assignment with the Signal Corp was a detachment to the joint British/American team that was developing enhancements to radar. Unlike Ted, my Dad never went on to getting an Amateur Radio license. Perhaps that skipped a generation and was my destiny.

Carmen also informed me that her Dad was a CW man. Yay! I was elated to find that out. It makes me feel like i'm somehow carrying on his legacy, even though I never knew him. I did mention to Carmen and Jon that I wished I had known Ted back in 1978 when I was studying for my own Novice license and beyond. I know in my heart of hearts he would have been a fantastic Elmer, and boy, I could have used one back then.

As I said before, this was an amazing experience. I got to double dip! Not only did I learn so much more about this amazing man who originally held the callsign W2LJ, but I was also able to meet and converse with his daughhter and grandson - two of the most kind, warm, and friendly people you'd ever want to know. Thanks so much, Carmen and Jon! I can only hope that my Amateur Radio career would make Ted proud that W2LJ lives on.

72 de Larry W2LJ
QRP - When you care to send the very least!
Larry Makoski, W2LJ, is a regular contributor to and writes from New Jersey, USA. Contact him at [email protected].

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