1924 - 2012
May 19, 1924 - Aug. 13, 2012
Harold Frank was born on May 19, 1924, in Walla Walla, the 8th of 9 children born to Elizabeth and John David Frank; Germans that emigrated from the Volga region of Russia. Upon graduation from high school, Harold attended Whitman College for one year before serving in World War II with the 274th Infantry Regiment known as the “Trailblazers”. His fluency in German proved invaluable on his assignment as a Morse code specialist positioned in France and Germany. Harold returned to home in 1946 and resumed his education at Washington State University with the benefit of the G.I. Bill. Harold graduated in 1948 with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering.
He started his career in the field of geophysical exploration, working in Wyoming, Oklahoma and Texas where he helped develop a magnetic tape recording process that aided in the identification of oil deposits. In 1956, when Harold was looking for his next career opportunity, he visited the Santa Barbara area. Despite job offers to return to Oklahoma and Texas, he made another important decision: “after having a taste of Santa Barbara it was difficult to consider leaving. Since there were not many places to work in Santa Barbara it became necessary to start my [own] company”.
Harold founded Applied Magnetics Corporation in 1957 in the spare bedroom of his Santa Barbara house, which was used as an office for both himself and his first employee, a part-time secretary. Applied Magnetics grew to be the second largest employer in Santa Barbara County (second only to UCSB) and was one of the first Goleta-based companies to be publicly traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Applied Magnetics, one of the first companies to manufacture in South Korea, grew into a world-wide corporation. From founder and first engineer, Harold retired as the CEO and chairman of the board.
Over the years Harold has shared his success with others and has made a tremendous impact on the lives of many young scholars, especially in the technology programs at Washington State University and the University of California at Santa Barbara. Harold tells engineering students that it was the GI Bill, such a help to him finishing college, which gave him the inspiration to establish scholarships for others. “This is something I felt I had to do,’’ he said. “I’d like to see students go out on their own and start their own companies to benefit mankind.’’ Through the Raintree Foundation, Harold has also supported many local organizations; especially those that help young people and provide them with educational opportunities.
When not in his Goleta office (formerly a dairy barn from the 1930s), you could find Harold reading a good book, leafing through the newspaper or out enjoying the ski slopes and golf courses in various spots around the globe. In the summer months he would be at the family cabin on the Hoback River in Jackson Hole, Wyo., or floating the Snake River waiting for the fish to bite.
Harold passed away Monday, 13 Aug., 2012, in Santa Barbara, leaving behind four older brothers, Carl of Goleta, David of Fayetteville, N.C., Sol of Walla Walla and John of Garden Grove, Calif.) and one younger sister (Freda Wilhelm of Walla Walla; two sons, Jim of Santa Barbara, and Robert of Lompoc, Calif.l; three grandchildren, James, Jessica and Tyler; and countless friends and family. He will be sorely missed.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012. at 4 p.m. at First Congregational United Church of Christ, 73 South Palouse, Walla Walla. Reception to follow. At the family’s request, in lieu of flowers, donations in Harold’s name will be welcomed at The Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, PO Box 3620, Santa Barbara, CA 93130 or The Boys and Girls Club of Santa Barbara, 5701 Hollister, Goleta, CA 93117 or Santa Barbara City College Foundation, 721 Cliff Drive, Santa Barbara, CA 93109, which all share Harold’s strong history of supporting local children & young adults and their education.