Manley Melvin Goldfine was so proud of his hometown of Duluth that he spearheaded the efforts behind many of the attractions that draw thousands of visitors to the port city each year.
The businessman and civic leader was the driving force behind the Duluth Entertainment and Convention Center when it was built in the late 1960s and the Spirit Mountain ski area. He was a champion for the Great Lakes Aquarium and an operating partner of the Vista Fleet harbor cruises. He felt so passionate about Duluth and its potential as a tourist destination that he helped transform the city's publicity bureau into a professional organization that now goes by the name Visit Duluth.
"The positive impact he had on Duluth is immeasurable," said Terry Mattson, Visit Duluth's president and CEO. "Monnie [his nickname] is synonymous with tourism in this region, and a lot of it would not have happened without his tireless efforts. He was such a cheerleader for Duluth. He made our community a better place to live, work and play."
Goldfine, 80, died from heart failure April 1 while at his winter home in Scottsdale, Ariz.
Born in Duluth, Goldfine learned a strong work ethic from his parents, Abe and Fannie, immigrants who founded Goldfine's Trading Post. He worked there until he graduated from Duluth Central High School. He returned to the family business after earning an accounting degree from the University of Minnesota.
He opened a discount store in the early 1960s, and later ventured into the hotel and entertainment business with his brother, Erwin, by forming the ZMC Hotel company. When the iron ore and logging industries soured in the 1960s, Goldfine saw the commercial potential in the natural beauty of the area and imagined the area becoming a tourist destination, said his son Andy, of Duluth.
"Often he took the visions of other people and with his leadership, hard work and financial modeling know-how, Monnie knew how to make it happen," Andy said. "He was a very humble guy and modest man, but he loved his work and could not wait to get started."
Goldfine published a book called "The Will and the Way" in which he described the many projects that he and others accomplished in Duluth. His contributions to Duluth were recognized in 1967, when at 35 he became the youngest member to be inducted into the Duluth Hall of Fame.
Goldfine was president of Temple Israel in Duluth, chairman of the Duluth Federation and served on boards of the College of St. Scholastica and the North Shore Bank of Commerce. His most recent contribution to the city was the creation of Gold Star Teacher Awards, which give an outstanding teacher in the Duluth School District $5,000 from a fund established by Goldfine and his wife, Lillian.
"He believed in public education as a centerpiece to our democracy and that public schools needed to be strong now and in the future," said Duluth schools Superintendent Keith Dixon. "He believed that we do not honor educators enough for what they do and wanted to thank high-quality teachers for their contributions to young people."
Goldfine's passions included family and boating on Lake Superior. He served as president of the Duluth Power Squadron and was commodore of the Great Lakes Cruising Club. He captained his 36-foot cruiser Kinship through the Great Lakes to the World's Fair in New York. He liked ice cream and loved to travel, family members said.
In addition to his wife of 59 years, Lillian, and son Andy, Goldfine is survived by another son, Ken of Scottsdale; a daughter, Ellen Troeltzsch of Oriental, N.C.; a sister, Sandra Weiner of Houston, and three grandchildren.
Services have been held.