For Scott Larimer, community service is a family tradition. He likes to say it’s ingrained in his DNA. Looking back on his youth growing up in the town of Bellefonte in central Pennsylvania, his father’s sense of service laid the foundation of community service for Larimer.
Charles “Rusty” Larimer is a union worker for the telephone company. Being in a union means the possibility of a strike every three years. “I remember one year there was a strike and my dad went three months without a steady source of income,” recalls Larimer. “But, he still does community service work, helping others and doing something for the city. For community service to be that important to him, it seemed to me like something worth doing in my own life.”
The elder Larimer also served as the local “Santa Claus” for nearly 40 years before medical problems forced him to get off his sleigh. From Thanksgiving to New Years, Larimer’s dad is booked daily for parades, nursing homes, hospitals and other events that require a St. Mary’s visit. “My father always said the joy on the children’s faces was all the payment he needed,” said his son. “That’s the kind of role model I have.”
Following in his father’s footsteps, Larimer began his legacy of community service during his time in the Boy Scouts and Boy Scouts. While she was a student at Penn State, she volunteered for the Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon, the world’s largest student-run philanthropic organization. Each year the group organizes a 46-hour dance marathon to raise money for the Four Diamonds Fund, which funds cancer research and pays for the treatment of pediatric cancer patients at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital. This year’s marathon featured 707 dancers and more than 16,000 volunteers who raised a record-breaking $15 million.
After moving to Virginia, the principal systems engineer in the Department of Electromagnetic Systems and Sensors found service opportunities with Historic Fredericksburg, Fredericksburg Jaycees, Boy Scouts and as a volunteer baseball coach with local parks and recreational leagues. Larimer also spent several seasons using his personal video equipment to record James Monroe High School football games from a height above the stadium’s press box.
When lugging 60-pound equipment up the stadium became too much for his aching back, Larimer looked for new volunteer opportunities. He turned to his radio frequency (RF) job at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) for inspiration. “I’ve worked in RF my entire career here at Dahlgren, and I’ve asked myself why I never bothered to get my amateur radio license,” says Larimer. “The amateur radio community provides a lot of community service, and that provided the final motivation for getting my license.”
Larimer joined the Rappahannock Valley Amateur Radio Club (RVARC) after obtaining a KN4RPA license and callsign in January 2019. The group provides communications services for events in the City of Fredericksburg and the counties of Spotsylvania and Stafford. Through RVARC, Larimer contributed his time and skills to area events such as the state basketball tournament for the Special Olympics and Marine Corps Historic Section.
Through his volunteer efforts, Larimer became something of an amateur radio ambassador. When kids at the Special Olympics event asked about his radio, he made time to let them send messages over the network. “I tell them what to say, and they deliver the report. Talking on the radio makes their day. The feeling I get from that can’t be beat,” he said.
Larimer volunteers for around 40 events each year. His efforts have brought him much recognition. In September 2019, the Amateur Radio Relay League, the national amateur radio organization, appointed him emergency communications coordinator for the City of Fredericksburg.
Her work with Marine Corps Half provided the opportunity to work at the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC, which is a daunting endeavor requiring coordination with multiple agencies. “This is on the scale of a mass causality event,” said Larimer. “We operate with over 100 volunteers on 20 different frequencies through three main networks to provide updates and related information throughout the event.”
There is particular pride that Larimer takes in working on the frontline of communications for this running event. “There have been life-threatening emergency events when our communications network was integral to providing timely medical attention,” he said. “I really love volunteering, but this is why I’m really doing this.”
For his significant contribution through voluntary communications services to his community, Larimer received the NSWCDD Distinguished Community Service Award at the NSWCDD Honorary Awards ceremony on March 10 at the Fredericksburg Expo and Conference Center.