Bill Somerville, G4WJS, December 2021

| December 6, 2021
Bill Somerville, G4WJS (SK)

Bill Somerville, G4WJS (SK)

From Joe Taylor, K1JT, we received the sad news that Bill Somerville, G4WJS, died suddenly and unexpectedly. He was only about 65 years old.

Bill was the first to join Joe in in 2013 forming a core development group for WSJT-X. Joe: “Bill has been closely involved with WSJT-X and related software projects ever since. Our free, open-source software could not have achieved its extensive worldwide popularity and influence in ham radio without Bill’s essential contributions. In addition to writing code for important portions of the Qt-based user interface for WSJT-X, Bill helped to bring the overall program structure more nearly up to professional standards. Moreover, he devoted countless hours to program support, patiently answering user’s questions on WSJT-related forums.

“I have only started to think about the many ways in which I will miss Bill – not no mention how we all will miss his immense and positive impact on WSJT-X and related projects. For more than eight years Bill and I communicated closely and regularly on ham radio topics, sometimes many times per day. Perhaps I will be able to write more about it in the near future.

“Rest in peace, dear friend G4WJS.”

Joe, K1JT


“I first met Bill around 20 years ago when he moved to Stokenchurch and became active on the VHF bands. We had a common interest in VHF DXing and contests. Bill was degree educated, chemistry if I remember correctly, but worked as a software engineer for local companies. My background was in mechanical engineering, so we were able to readily exchange ideas. During the following years we did many contests together from 160m to 70cm with the Maidenhead Amateur Radio Club of which we were both members and of which he eventually became Chairman. Following the club’s demise, we both joined the Reading club, of which he was an active member until his death.

“During our early exchanges I mentioned that I was using a piece of software called WSJT which had originally been given to me in 2002 at the Prague EME conference and updated at subsequent EME conferences. We spent many hours discussing this and my hardware disasters trying to use it. Following a call for help by Joe Taylor, K1JT sometime around 2008, we discussed how he may be able to help. That led to his involvement with the WSJT-X program.

“Bill had endless patience and had the unique ability to resolve issues over email in a way that very few people could. I remember one evening, we were doing a pub quiz, in the interval he was answering questions posed to him on the WSJT reflector – and there were many – all answered with the same patience and understanding.

“More recently during the recent SV5/HB9COG EME DXpedition, there was a problem with the way Q65 was treating compound callsigns. Bill was able to remote into my shack PC and effectively sit on my shoulder and see what was going on in the software that was causing the decoding problem.

“RIP Bill, you will be fondly remembered.” 

Tribute by Dave, G4RGK


Category: Silent Keys