Co-workers and other radio enthusiasts mourn Marlborough man who died while trying to save a dog | Local News


MARLBOROUGH – On the day he died, James Philopena did at least two things he loved. He spent time with his golden retriever, Murphy. And he answered questions about amateur radio in an online forum.

The 59-year-old Marlborough resident last posted on the forum on Thursday, April 4 at around 4 p.m., his friend and avid radio colleague Neil Goodell of Swanzey said.

Philopena drowned in 12 feet of water at Meetinghouse Pond that evening. He was trying to save Murphy, who had strayed on the ice, Marlborough Police Chief Christopher Lyons told The Sentinel on Sunday. Murphy is dead too.

A friend alerted police on Friday that Philopena had not been heard since Thursday afternoon, according to a Friday press release from Marlborough Police and the NH Fish and Game Department. Neighbors helped first responders find the area where Philopena and her dog had drowned.

Like other members of the amateur radio community, Philopena used her call sign, a combination of letters and numbers that represented her station: KB1NXE. He had a page on his radio station at QRZ, a directory of amateur radio channels. As news of his death spread throughout the community last weekend, someone created a post to let others know that KB1NXE had gone silent. People in the amateur radio world use the term “silent key” when an operator dies. Borrowed from Morse code, it designates the end of a transmission.

On Wednesday evening, less than a week after Philopena’s death, many radio friends gathered to remember him at Community House in Marlborough. Goodell, who is also the chairman of the Cheshire County DX Amateur Radio Club, chaired the meeting. Another member, Larry Levesque from Surry, had compiled a slideshow of photos of Philopena doing club activities. There were pictures of him building radio towers and pictures of him with his equipment. Almost everyone showed a dog next to him. The puppy in these photos – Goodell’s dog, Buddy – always seemed to find a place at Philopena’s feet, Goodell said.

“Dogs know people,” Goodell told the 20 or so members in the room Wednesday night. “Well, if that’s not the true compliment to the type of person Jim was… I mean, that says pretty much everything you need to know about the type of person he was. “

Philopena had been with the club for 12 years and participated in many of its activities. He attended the club’s annual day in June each year, an event that coincides with similar events across North America and includes setting up a transmitting station in a public place to demonstrate from amateur radio to the community. He also helped set up a radio tracking system for the Clarence DeMar Marathon each fall, according to Goodell. The system allows the organizers to follow the runners throughout the course.

“Jim was a big part of the club,” Goodell said. “And everyone here knew him.”

Philopena’s “go-box”, a collection of portable radio transmission equipment for emergencies, was immaculate, one of the club members said. He knew his equipment, said another, and was happy to answer questions.

Philopena was born in Manchester, Connecticut, and served in the US Air Force for about 20 years, retiring as a master sergeant, according to his obituary. (see A4). He most recently worked as a Senior Network and Systems Administrator at Landmark College in Putney, Vermont, where he had worked since 2017. Philopena adopted Murphy in April 2018 from the Westbury, NY-based Pets4Luv organization, according to his obituary. .

In the written memories they sent to The Sentinel, his colleagues at Landmark said he loved his four-legged companion. Kirt Sorensen, a network and systems engineer at the college, wrote that Philopena often spoke about Murphy. He beamed when he talked about their walks together, Sorensen noted.

Another colleague, Jennifer Lann, director of library services, wrote that under Philopena’s care, Murphy had transformed “from a fearful and therefore sometimes aggressive dog into a happy and peaceful canine companion.”

Philopena was known for his generous heart and sense of humor, she wrote, and his rescue attempt was in line with who he was.

“While it was devastating to learn what happened to them both, it didn’t surprise any of us who knew Jim to learn that he sacrificed his life valiantly trying to save Murphy’s life. . “

You can reach Liora Engel-Smith at 352-1234, ext. 1439, or Follow her on Twitter @LEngelSmithKS.

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