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.

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7 thoughts on “Jim Goldfrank Passes Away

  1. I’ve been reminded that Jim Goldfrank was also a major Gilbert and Sullivan fan, who heard all the operettas at least once and some of them several times. He loved to sing his favorite songs from HMS PINAFORE and THE PIRATES OF PENZANCE.

  2. I met Jim in the late ’70’s, primarily through his friendship with Lester Mayer. Jim had ulcerative colitis, which led to other follow-on problems. [I was working at the time for a Federal outfit that reviewed both new & “me-too” orthopedic prosthetic replacements.] Once Jim learned of my area of expertise, he began an oft-repeated ritual when we would meet, at Con’s (& sometimes even in restaurants): He would balance himself, then drop to a full knee-bend position; hold for a few seconds; then return to a standing posture without assistance. This reassured me–& him–that each of his prosthetic hip joints were functional & he was pain-free. Thank you, Martin, for sharing with our fannish family just a few glimpses of the ebullient, mostly joyful, Jewish elf who loved Irish culture, especially songs & dances.

  3. He was also interested in good filk; I recall how delighted he was to find out about the Gilbert and Sullivan parodies.

  4. I remember Jim Goldfrank from some of the East Coast cons I attended in the early 70’s. He always impressed me as having a very calm and mellow personality, someone who glided smoothly through life. (I was envious of that.)

  5. I googled Jim’s name on my new Kindle and found this tribute and site. We met Jim when my husband was learning to play the uillean pipes. We were at Willie Clancy Summer School and had many cups of tea together in our motor home. We corresponded afterwards but lost touch when he and Henrietta moved to Florida. I am sad to find that he has died and send sincere sympathy to Henrietta and all their extended family. As another comment said Jim had a calm and mellow personality. He was a true gentleman.

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