Obituary: Cameron Hartford

Longtime Claremont resident, radio enthusiast, lover of culture

Cameron Hartford died March 13 while on an outing with the Claremont Senior Bike Group. Biking with these friends was his favorite sport. This was his last ride.

Cam was born in Lakewood, Ohio in 1946. The homes in which he grew up always had a “radio shack” room. Learning Morse Code to become a first class Boy Scout fueled his interest in amateur radio. He became an Eagle Scout and earned his first amateur radio license at a very young age.

He became legendary in the radio community for his speed and accuracy in Morse Code. He practiced regularly, right up until his last week, and took satisfaction in establishing contact with operators across the globe.

He earned his bachelor of arts degree at Claremont McKenna College 1968 and an MBA from USC 1969. He and Martha Hedquist, herself a 1968 Scripps College grad, were married in San Diego on June 28, 1969. 

Mr. Hartford served in the US Army in Washington, DC from 1970 to 1972. After his Army service, the couple moved to Redlands before settling in Claremont in 1978.

He began his business career in the insurance industry, followed by supervising production at Darbo Manufacturing Co., then working in textbook fulfillment at Houghton Mifflin.

He enjoyed working in amateur radio, and became a Claremont and North American legend, having co-founded and led the “Zuni Loop Field Day” at Mt. Baldy’s Table Mountain Campground for 30 years. Only ham radio operators will know the fun and challenge of this annual competition.

He also wrote a column for QST, the ham operators’ monthly magazine. His fellow ham radio enthusiasts remember him as gracious, humble, kind, patient and unstinting in his generosity when giving help and passing along his skills.

A related focus of interest for Mr. Hartford was radio antennae; through his work and experimentation he became a brilliant electronics designer and eagerly shared his innovative knowledge. Wire antennae were shot into the towering pine trees of the Zuni campground for the duration of competitions. Originally, slingshots were used for this, but in later years he developed an air compressor, which did a more efficient job. When wrapping up the event, the antennae were brought down without disturbing so much as a pinecone.

One could spot the Hartford home in Claremont because of the towering radio antenna that was covered with lights at Christmas time. 

The Hartfords have been longtime supporters of the arts in the Claremont community, especially the Scripps Fine Arts Foundation, the Claremont Museum of Art and the American Museum of Ceramic Art in Pomona. They patronized art venues across Southern California, never missing a season of the Pasadena Playhouse, and delighting in performances at Disney Hall in Los Angeles.

They traveled frequently across the United States and Europe, but at the top of their list was their beloved Vermont, where they returned frequently for family reunions. Back in Claremont, they worked for decades on their eclectic drought-tolerant yard, which was honored by Sustainable Claremont in 2018. 

Mr. Hartford is survived by his wife Martha; son David; daughter Robin; siblings Barbara (Jim), Robert (Suzy), Deborah (John), Pamela (Michel) and Margaret (Ben). 

A celebration of his life will take place in Claremont in the fall.


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