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