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George B. Cline, Humble Technology Wizard, Leaves Public Safety Communications Legacy

George B. ClineGeorge B. Cline, 79, died on the evening of Jan. 11 in Birmingham, Ala., but his public safety communications legacy lives on across his adopted home of St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands and beyond.
Cline served as a long-time radio dispatcher for St. John Rescue and was an active member of the local St. John Amateur Radio Club, making substantial communications strides on behalf of both groups. Cline, known by his amateur radio call-sign, KP2G, started the V.I. Weather Net in 1994, providing daily weather updates at 6:40 a.m. AST, daily. The network continues to this day, relaying critical weather information and individual local reports to hams and boaters in the vicinity of the U.S. and British Virgin Islands.
Cline will likely best be remembered for spearheading the placement of several radio repeaters on the island and throughout the local Caribbean in an effort to close severe communications gaps for emergency responders. He worked with members of the St. John Rescue, and ARES (Amateur Radio Emergency Service) to develop a new cross-band repeater system on four islands designed to reach all of the V.I. National Park’s remote valleys and beaches. The effort involved the cooperation of the British Virgin Islands Telecommunication Bureau to place one of the needed repeaters on Jost Van Dyke in the BVI.
Cline’s efforts were tireless and motivated by a critical need to have volunteer first responders quickly reach individuals during medical and other emergencies, this on an island with many terrain and infrastructure-related communication challenges.
Members of St. John Rescue describe Cline as a humble man — extremely talented but never one to show off. He was always ready to use his skills to assist with any task, large or small. Rescue members describe Cline’s radio skills as amazing, and say he will be best remembered for his dispatching skills. According to Rescue, when you heard Cline’s voice on the radio, no matter how chaotic the situation was, you would become calm and get back to the task at hand. To say that he will be missed on St. John is a huge understatement.
Some of Cline’s efforts involved members of both St. John Rescue and the St. John Amateur Radio Club — groups he was active in for many, many years. Cline was instrumental in helping relocate radio repeater for use by Rescue and the V.I. National Park, providing the technology know how, needed materials and other expertise to make a same-day move a success.
Cline served as a mentor to anyone interested in amateur radio — from the more basic things such as how to choose a good first radio to encouraging local amateurs to study for higher level exams. He was a member of the local Amateur Radio Emergency Service, was a volunteer amateur radio examiner, and served as treasurer of the SJARC.
According to local club members, Cline was well known in the Caribbean as net control for the morning, 40-meter Caribbean net, and he provided weather information to the cruising sailor community. Visiting sailors were always welcome to his home when they visited St. John, and to the monthly ham (and eggs) breakfast meeting of the local Amateur Radio Club.
Cline was an active communications volunteer to the Virgin Islands Territorial Emergency Management Agency and participated in emergency communications after hurricane disasters. Following Hurricane Marilyn in 1995, which devastated much of the local communications infrastructure, Cline helped to facilitate linking two sides of the island, cut off by hurricane damage, and a critical communication link to the local medical facility.
Cline is survived by his wife of 54 years, Hermina Joyce Cline; sisters: Janet Champion, Helen Clusman, Mary Phyllis Ott (all of McConnellsburg, Penn.), Martha Harness of Chambersburg, Penn., and Joyce Engel of Hawi, Hawaii.
Cline graduated from McConnellsburg High School in 1954, Juniata College in 1958, and the Upstate Medical School of New York at Syracuse where he was awarded a Ph.D. in Physiology in 1966.
He was a research associate at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory for five years, followed by 25 years in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Biology Department. While a professor at UAB, he served as department chairman for several years and spent sabbatical years at the University of Brussels, Belgium and the College of the Virgin Islands. George and Joyce moved to St. John in 1992 and have remained there.
He further served on the board of directors of the Seagrape Hill Land Owners Association on St. John.
Services will be held later at the Cline Family Cemetery in McConnellsburg, Penn.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Animal Care Center of St. John, Inc., PO Box 429, St. John, VI 00831

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