Harold Frank

1924 - 2012, Santa Barbara

Harold Frank was born on May 19th, 1924 in Walla Walla Washington, the 8th of 9 children born to Elizabeth and John David; 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 Washington in 1946 and resumed his education at Washington State University with the benefit of the G.I. Bill where he earned a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in the graduating class of 1948.

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 this work brought him back out West with his wife and two sons. At a point when Harold was looking for his next career opportunity and receiving 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 was one of the first companies to manufacture in South Korea and grew into a world-wide corporation. Harold served as the Chairman and CEO.

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 both WSU and UCSB. When working with WSU, Harold reported that it was the GI Bill, which had been of such a help to him finishing college that 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, CA 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 you could find him at his cabin along the Hoback River in Jackson Hole, Wyoming…. or floating the Snake River waiting for the fish to bite.

Harold passed away Monday, 13 August in Santa Barbara, CA leaving behind four brothers and one sister, two sons, three grandchildren and countless friends and family. He will be sorely missed.
A memorial service will be held at First Presbyterian Church, 21 East Constance, Santa Barbara at 4:00pm Sunday, 26 August. The service will be followed by a reception at Valley Club, 1901 East Valley Road, Montecito.

At the family’s request, in lieu of flowers, donations in Harold’s name will be welcomed at The Scholarship Foundation of Santa Barbara, The Boys and Girls Club of Santa Barbara, or another charity of your choice sharing Harold’s strong history of supporting local children & young adults and their education

Print Friendly and PDFPrintPrint Friendly and PDFPDF


Independent Discussion Guidelines

Dear Independent,

Thank you for the well-written obituary of my Uncle, Harold Roy Frank. However, I couldn't help but notice that you have the names of his parents (my grandparents) listed incorrectly. His Mother's name was Elizabeth, not Katherine, and his Father always went by J. David, not John (his first name was, indeed, Johann, or John, but so was the first name of several of his brothers, all of whom therefore primarily used their middle names to avoid confusion).

Best regards,
Paul D. Frank

pdfrank (anonymous profile)
August 21, 2012 at 11:55 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Aha, so that's who the former Engineering I building @UCSB is named after.

EastBeach (anonymous profile)
August 21, 2012 at 12:16 p.m. (Suggest removal)

I worked for Harold at Applied Magnetics one summer (1957 I think) when I was still a student in Physics at UCSB. No Engineering at UCSB at the time. There were only 6 or 8 employees in the airport WWII barracks if I remember correctly and I recall that the recording heads for the oil industry weren't selling. Harold decided that the price would be raised and they started selling!

I still remember Tom Russell who was a UCSB classmate of mine and Fergie and forget the name of the auto mechanic (Tom?) who wanted a sales job and I think he got it by taking some heads to Vandenburg and getting some sales.

It was like a close family and a great summer job.

I remember the coffee breaks and the talks in the barracks and how well Harold treated his employees. I also remember that we had received a sample of the then just coming to market Kodak 501 cement and we tried to glue a small piece of wood to the tire of the Peugot which was being used as the "company car." (Thankfully didn't work!)

Nice car and I recall driving it to Santa Barbara to pick up something from a machinist that was doing some work for Harold.

In a way I wish I'd taken Harold up on his promise to hire me when I finished school but at that time, 1961, I ended up going to work for EG&G which was relatively new in Goleta.

I never visited Harold after that but my parents who lived in SB used to play bridge with him and his wife if I remember correctly and I'd get bits and pieces of information from them.

And a few years ago when I was visiting UCSB I was surprised to find the large building carrying Harold's name!!!

Brings back good memories! Were I closer than Silicon Valley where I now lived after retired from 30 years of college teaching, I'd be at the service.

Best wishes to family members.

RAW (anonymous profile)
September 8, 2012 at 8:48 a.m. (Suggest removal)

event calendar sponsored by: