Erwin Lewis GoldfineErwin Lewis Goldfine, 79, a lifelong resident of Duluth, died Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2002, with his family at his side, at his winter home in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Erwin Lewis Goldfine, 79, a lifelong resident of Duluth, died Wednesday, Dec. 25, 2002, with his family at his side, at his winter home in Scottsdale, Ariz. Erwin was born in Duluth on September 25, 1923, to Abraham and Fannie Goldfine, European immigrants who arrived in the US as children. Erwin's parents began trading livestock in Duluth and eventually opened Goldfine's Trading Post on Garfield Avenue in 1937. Erwin and his brother, Monnie, began working with their parents in the business as teenagers during the Great Depression and the two brothers continued working together until Erwin's death. He graduated from Duluth Central High School in 1941, attended the University of Minnesota and enlisted in the Army Air Corp on Dec. 7, 1942. He served in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy before returning to Duluth in 1945. While visiting his brother Monnie at the University of Minnesota, Erwin met Beverly Betten. They were married on September 1, 1946, and have been together for 57 years. Erwin continued his career at Goldfine's Trading Post, which had now expanded to feature general merchandise, groceries, furniture, appliances and farm implements. He was responsible for the furniture department. After his father passed away in 1950, his mother Fannie, took over management of the business, gradually relinquishing management to Erwin and Monnie. During the 1950's, the business became the area's largest furniture, carpet and appliance store. The Goldfine's expanded even further with construction of one of the nation's first discount stores, Goldfine's by the Bridge, which opened in the summer of 1962, (the same summer Target, Kmart and Wal-Mart first opened similar discount stores). Unlike the other discounters, however, Goldfine's continued to feature furniture, carpet, appliances and power sports equipment in addition to general merchandise. Goldfine's by the Bridge grew to become the region's largest retailer in retail volume and physical size. In 1970, Goldfine's merged with Unishops, Inc., a publicly traded company, and Erwin was named President, and later Chairman, of the Goldfine's Division. Stores were opened in Grand Rapids, Mankato, Willmar, Sioux City and Des Moines.The parent company, Unishops, ran into financial difficulties in the late 1970's which forced Goldfine's to close. Erwin and Monnie then formed Zenith Management Company to manage three motels in the Twin Ports area they had previously acquired and future planned holdings in the hospitality industry.The company greatly expanded over the years, and by 2000 ZMC Hotels operated 40 hospitality businesses in 18 states and employed 2,000 people. Erwin and Monnie passed their family business to the next Goldfine generation when three of their children assumed ownership of the company in 2001. Erwin remained active as a consultant until last month. Erwin was also extremely active in the community he cherished, especially in higher education. He was chairman of the committee that raised funds to establish a medical school at the University of Minnesota, Duluth (UMD). He was a past chair of the Minnesota Higher Education Coordinating Committee and he was elected and proud to serve our region as a Regent of the University of Minnesota for 12 years, from 1975 to 1987. He also served on the board of the University of Minnesota Foundation. UMD acknowledged Erwin's long time service to the university by naming the Goldfine Residence Hall in his honor. He and his wife Beverly established the Beverly and Erwin Goldfine Scholarship for Academic Excellence at UMD. They were bestowed with Honoree Doctor of Law Degrees from UMD in 1999. Erwin was also honored that year by the Minnesota Education Association for his contributions to higher education in Minnesota. Erwin was a lifelong Democrat and very active in the Minnesota DFL Party. He was a past President of Temple Emanuel Synagogue and the Duluth Jewish Federation as well as a regional officer in B'nai Brith. He was an active member of Temple Israel congregation. He was involved in literally dozens of community organizations. He was a founder of the Duluth Convention and Visitor's Bureau, a member of the Executive Committee of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce and the Hillside Loafers. He loved sports and golf and was active in many sporting organizations. In addition to his many business and civic accomplishments, Erwin was well known as 'a really nice guy'. He was always willing to lend advice and to help whoever asked him. He is preceded in death by his parents, Abraham Goldfine and Fannie Benton. He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Beverly; four children Steve (Ilene Levin) and John (Donde) of Duluth, Amy and Dan (Robbie Schwartz) of Scottsdale, Ariz.; a brother and sister-in-law Manley and Lillian Goldfine of Duluth; a sister and brother-in-law, Sandra and Leon Weiner of Houston, Texas, and in-laws Helen and Herman Robitshek of Gulf Port, Fla.; grandchildren Ted, Fia, Ariel, and Jonah Goldfine.; and many close friends. SERVICES 1 p.m, Sunday, at the Marshall Performing Arts Center on the University of Minnesota, Duluth (UMD) campus. In lieu of flowers, memorials to the Beverly and Erwin Goldfine Scholarship for Academic Excellence at UMD or to the Erwin Goldfine Memorial Fund at Temple Israel would be appreciated. Arrangements by the Dougherty Funeral Home.
Comments posted on this page do not reflect opinions of Forum Communications Company. Forum Communications Company does not endorse and is not responsible for any statement, opinion, advice given or made. All replies are subject to approval and must follow Forum Communications Company guidelines concerning statements of libel, personal attacks or defamation of character. Replies in the "Talk About It" section that criticize a person by name may not be posted, unless that person is openly involved in a public issue. Comments written in all capital letters or bold print will not be considered for inclusion in the forum.