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Walter Goldfrank


1940 - 2017
Walter Goldfrank Obituary
Walter Goldfrank
March 7, 1940 - July 11, 2017
Resident of Santa Cruz
Walter L. ("Wally") Goldfrank died peacefully and painlessly in his sleep on July 11 after a courageous battle with first bone marrow cancer and then leukemia. His spirit and sense of humor never left him until his dying breath. His devoted and loving wife Lois survives him, as do his two wonderful children, Naomi Talish of Scarsdale, NY, and Benjamin Goldfrank of Montclair, NJ. Other beloved survivors include Naomi's husband Joel Talish and their daughters Julia and Abigail, Ben's wife Ivette and their son Diego, Wally's loyal brother David of Falls Church, VA and his wife and five children, his sister- and brother-in-law Sally Howlett and Bill Segesta of Berkeley, CA, his dear cousins Dorothy Glass and Helen Stein of NY, NY, and his lifelong friends Sam Kaplan of Philadelphia, PA, and John Bell and Dorothy Stoneman of Belmont, MA.
Wally was born in New York City on March 7, 1940, attended Hunter College Elementary School through sixth grade, and then Edgemont High School in Scarsdale, where he was the valedictorian of its first graduating class in 1957. He received an AB with high honors from Harvard College in 1962, a Certificate in Sociology from the University of Madrid in 1963, and a Ph.D. in Sociology from Columbia University in 1973. By then he had been teaching at UC Santa Cruz since 1968, having been a founding fellow of Merrill College. While in graduate school in New York, he worked part time at the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. He spent a week in Mississippi at the end of Freedom Summer in 1964 compiling a "docket" of unfinished cases left for the Inc. Fund to handle. In the summer of 1965, he and Lois took part in the Southern Teaching Program, offering classes at Philander Smith College in Little Rock, AR.
Wally's commitment to justice and peace was part of his life's work. He was active in the anti-war and civil rights movements and treasurer of the Santa Cruz chapter of the ACLU. He coined the phrase "Soledad Brothers" and was one of the founders of their defense committee. His survey research helped earn the accused a change of venue from Monterey County, and he soon became active in the National Jury Project, participating in legal cases involving radical defendants. He was an early supporter of the women's movement, and took part in the campus struggle to institute childcare for faculty and staff offspring.
As a participant in institutional innovation, Wally helped shape the Merrill College curriculum. He helped found the Latin American & Latino Studies program, fought for its transition to full-fledged department status, and aided in the creation of its recently begun PhD program, the first such in the United States. He also was instrumental in shaping the Sociology Department's graduate programs, serving significant terms as both Graduate Director and department Chair. From 1988 to 1996, he served as Provost of College Eight, now Rachel Carson College.
Teaching was Wally's first love, and hundreds of students passed through his courses on World Society (UCSC's was among the first sociology departments in the country to require such a course), on Sociological Theory, Development and Underdevelopment, Revolution, and even Sociology of Sports. He mentored numerous doctoral students and reluctantly gave up the last few remaining just weeks before his death.
Wally was an amazing husband, making Lois laugh every day of their 52-year marriage. He was an equal partner in raising their children, leading Naomi's elementary school class to a blue ribbon for their entry in the Santa Cruz County Fair's "miscellaneous baked goods" category, thereby introducing bagels to the region, and coaching Benjy's Little League team to victory in the Championship. When empty-nested, Wally and Lois developed an abiding interest in birding, becoming life members of the Santa Cruz Bird Club. At the time of his death, he had seen almost 350 species in Santa Cruz County, and through their many trips abroad to over 50 countries, about 7300 species worldwide.
Wally was a wily lefty on the tennis court, and will be missed by several dear long-time partners. He became a first-rate bridge player and Bronze Life Master, forming friendships with multiple players at the Santa Cruz Bridge Club. He was a loyal fan of the Golden State Warriors, the Oakland Raiders, and the LA Dodgers, this last attachment formed in 1947 when the then-Brooklyn Dodgers called up Jackie Robinson, his childhood hero. His passion for sports was passed on to his adoring grandkids, who rooted for all of Wally's teams despite living on the opposite coast.
He often said he was one of the luckiest people alive until the bad luck of cancer robbed him of more.
A private memorial service will be held. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Wally's name to the American Civil Liberties Union (www.aclu.org) or the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County (www.landtrustsantacruz.org).


View the online memorial for Walter Goldfrank
Published in Santa Cruz Sentinel from July 14 to July 16, 2017
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