Jim Goldfrank Passes Away

By Martin Morse Wooster: Jim Goldfrank, an active fanzine fan in the 1960s and 1970s who was one of the founders of the Potomac River Science Fiction Society, died in Ocala, Florida on November 3. He was 80.

Goldfrank grew up in Long Island, and started reading sf at an early age. Thanks to eBay, I learned that he was a Planet Stories letterhack as early as 1947. I think he also attended meetings of the Eastern Science Fiction Association in the 1950s. He moved to the Washington D.C. area in the 1960s and eventually lived in Herndon, Virginia until moving to Ocala in 2007. He was a software engineer for IBM, programming on traditional “big iron” mainframes until his retirement in the late 1990s.

Goldfrank joined the Washington Science Fiction Association in the 1960s, and was a frequent reviewer for WSFA’s clubzine The WSFA Journal. When the journal seceded from WSFA with editor Don Miller, Goldfrank continued to write for the renamed SF&F Journal. He also contributed to Mythologies, Mimosa, and It Goes on the Shelf.

As a reader, Goldfrank had many enthusiasms. He very much enjoyed the horror tales of H.P. Lovecraft and his acolytes, and frequently posted on alt. chtluhu. Another author he was passionate about was Ken Bulmer writing planetary adventure stories under the pseudonym Alan Burt Akers. He frequently corresponded with his fellow Akers fans, where he adopted the penname of “Zheem.”

One of Goldfrank’s reviews of a Harlan Ellison story prompted Ellison to call Goldfrank and yell at him for some time. I don’t know and can’t find the review in question, but it should be noted that Goldfrank was not a knee-jerk Ellison hater. A review of Wandering Stars preserved in the online archive of the WSFA Journal praises Ellison’s story “I’m Looking for Kadak” for providing “warmth, uproarious humor, and joy.”

In June 1975 Goldfrank, along with Don Miller, Chick Derry, Lester Mayer, Bob Madle, Joe Mayhew, Avedon Carol, Jean Dunnington, and Martin Morse Wooster, founded a group which split away from WSFA to form a club that talked about books. That group, now known as the Potomac River Science Fiction Society, continues to meet. Goldfrank didn’t attend many meetings, but PRSFS still remembers him as one of the club’s founders.

Goldfrank’s other enthusiasm was folk music. He had seen most of the major folk artists many times. He was particularly interested in Irish music, and in a letter published in a 1999 issue of Ireland of the Welcomes explained his love for the country:

“My ancestral home is Bavaria, but I only associate that with the Holocaust. Ireland is the home of my heart. I have been there five times including three trips to the ‘Willie Clancy Summer School.’ I love Ireland’s beauty, her people and her music. I feel that love of saiorse (freedom) is something that Irish culture and my Jewish culture have in common.”

After moving to Ocala, Goldfrank founded another club, the Oak Run Science Fiction Society. He was a member of Congregation Beth Israel. He was also a supporter of the Ocala Cannibals Roller Derby club. “I saw Derby as a teenager and am anxious to see it again,” he said in a 2011 post to the club website. Finally, Goldfrank loved schnauzers and had several of them for most of the past two decades.

Goldfrank is survived by his second wife, Henrietta, two daughters from his first marriage, several children from his second marriage, and several grandchildren.