February 16, 1940 –
July 1, 2009
Ralph Trefney was born in Cleveland, OH and graduated from Fenn College (now Cleveland State University) in 1962 with a BSEE. His first “real” job was repairing radios and TV’s. He later went to work for Bird Electronics in Solon, OH as an RF engineer. Ralph was a designer of antennas, active, passive, and digital circuits, and high-speed printed circuit boards. He was Head of Filter/Coupler Engineering for Bird Electronics and held patents for their “Microstrip configuration with inductive pickup loop for VSWR meter” in 1978 and “Monitor for RF transmitter” in 1981.
In 1979 Ralph left Bird Electronics and relocated his family to California to accept a job working for Sperry-Univac in Santa Clara. Later, he moved on to local companies such as Qume Corporation, Apple Computer and CKC Laboratories, where, in 1991 he got his third patent on an “Open field test site reference antenna with integral battery powered signal generator.” He was inducted into the dB Society in 1993, where he was known as FLY-IN. He worked for Wyse Technologies, then Stratacom, later acquired by Cisco Systems, where he was granted his fourth patent on “Minimizing signal reflection along a transmission line without terminating the transmission line,” assigned to Cisco in 1998. They allowed him to relocate to Sequim, WA in 2001 while still working for Cisco Systems and retire there in 2006. He consulted under his Science Works Company until his passing. Ralph was an Extra Class amateur radio operator (N6BWX) and he loved to build airplanes and fly them.
His MiniMAX-103 experimental airplane project started in May of 1995 and was completed in June of 1998 with its maiden flight on July 25, 1998. It took 420 hours to complete the assembly and painting. Ralph was a member of the IEEE EMC Society, and was a NARTE-Certified Electromagnetic Compatibility Engineer. He was active in his local EAA Chapter (Experimental Aircraft) and served as an officer with the Coast Guard Auxiliary. He is survived by his wife, Patti, two daughters and four step-children.
Editor’s Note: It was a pleasure one rainy evening in Redmond, WA years ago to see Ralph Trefney at a Seattle EMC Chapter meeting at CKC Labs. We had both relocated to the greater Seattle area from sunny California around the same time and were adjusting to the long rainy season. Ralph told me he was living in the city of Sequim, which seemed so exotic to me at the time. We met at subsequent chapter meetings and I always enjoyed his cheerful demeanor and reminiscing about our friends from our respective EMC chapters that we left behind in California. Ralph always outdid me with his recollections though – I believe his Santa Clara Valley EMC Chapter was a little more rambunctious than my Los Angeles EMC Chapter. Farewell to Ralph from the Seattle EMC Chapter! EMC