Yesterday, Frank Seltzer passed away due to complications with a form of rare blood cancer. Seltzer was a longstanding writer within the cigar industry whose byline most recently appeared in Cigar Journal but he had written for just about every printed cigar publication in the U.S. that I’d ever heard and then some I didn’t know existed because of both age and circulation size. Also, he was based in Dallas. Brooks and I got to know well over the years; we both met him separately—probably before Brooks and I ever met each other—but he later watched us build halfwheel. Early on, Brooks would always suggest that we should hire Frank and just let him write “whatever he wanted once per week,” and see what happens—mainly, who Frank pissed off—I explained to Brooks that we didn’t need any help writing editorials that upset cigar companies. So we didn’t hire Frank. But Frank was always a supporter of halfwheel, occasionally even passing along a tip about a news story. And while he and I were quite different in age—very similar in our tendencies to be curmudgeons—I appreciated the smirk he would give me every time he saw me after halfwheel published a big story, I gathered he always had a special form of happiness reading and seeing our style of cigar industry coverage.
Seltzer’s birthday was always in late February, which meant that it often fell during or right after Procigar concluded. Over the years, I’ve been at birthday celebrations for Frank at various places around Santiago and despite his sometimes curmudgeonly demeanor, he loved his birthday celebrations like a little kid. I’ll miss the joy he had during those moments, I’ll miss his curse introductions at trade shows by just saying “what up” while looking off to the side, I’ll miss seeing his blue Hawaiian shirt, leather shoulder bag and faded Ron Barcelò hat roam around trade shows or cigar events. Obviously, most of all, I’ll just miss Frank—loving life, but with a deep disdain for that particular moment of it. — Charlie Minato.
As I prepared to go to bed on Sunday night, I decided to make one last check of my social media accounts, starting with Facebook. The first post was a jovial picture of Frank Seltzer, which struck me as a bit odd but maybe someone just caught him in a good mood. Then I read the words that accompanied the article, and I nearly sprang out of bed needing to process the shock of the news, starting with making sure something was written about Frank’s passing.
Frank and I weren’t close friends but you might not know that were you to see us chatting at a festival or trade show. In the group of people I most associate with the cigar industry, Frank is one of them. Our paths crossed at events, sporadic enough to warrant a head nod at the next one, but Frank would always take a moment or two to stop and chat, and more often than not it was a few moments that picked up later that evening and decently into the night. I will remember Frank not just for his Hawaiian shirts, pointed opinions and love of cigars, but for his presence in the moments we shared together. In an era of distraction, he was right there with you, and many times a step or two ahead.
Rest in peace, Frank.
Frank Seltzer was one of the most interesting people I have met in my life, and our friendship spanned more than 10 years. While seemingly always gruff and grumpy, he was also always there with a kind word or observation and never failed to ask about how my family was doing. His opinions were shared freely and honestly—something that I truly admired about him—and I respected him immensely.
He will be missed.
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