George Goldey grew up on the East Coast, traveled extensively and was recently living in Vietnam with his wife to teach aspiring entrepreneurs. But for the bulk of his life he was anchored in Santa Monica, whether he was working as an entertainment and publishing executive or hanging out at UnUrban Coffee House on Pico Boulevard.
Goldey, a longtime local resident, died suddenly of a stroke March 31 while attending a reception for the opening of an arts center in Ho Chi Minh City. He was 63.
“My heart aches for my Mom because she lost the love of her life,” said Goldey’s daughter, Alexa, a former Santa Monica High School student. “I’m thankful that they were on their big adventure together.”
Memorial services for Goldey will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 23, at Saint Augustine by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, 1227 Fourth St., in Santa Monica. A reception will follow at the Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club, 1210 Fourth St.
Friends locally and around the globe flooded Goldey’s Facebook page with comments, remembering him for his good-natured personality, his hospitality and his passion for travel.
“George’s proficiency in so many languages made his love of travel a meaningful, always fun adventure, especially to the friends he visited and the new ones he made in his travels across six of the seven continents,” said his wife, Karen Goldey, who is back in Santa Monica.
“Traveling with his family was a real delight in George’s life. Sharing early morning walks in parks across Europe with his daughter was everything to him. George was considered family by many across the globe, often a second father to those with whom we shared our home and our lives. His huge hugs and uncanny ability to listen will be missed by many.”
Raised in New Jersey, Goldey graduated from UC Santa Barbara in 1976 and started working in public relations for Omni magazine. Goldey then worked as a senior executive for PR firm Rogers & Cowan before founding the Beverly Hills-based Goldey Company talent agency in 1993 to represent actors like Barry Newman, Jan-Michael Vincent and Edie McClurg.
Julie Benz, an actress who has had roles on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Dexter,” among other television shows, said Goldey was her first agent in Hollywood.
“I am heartbroken over this news,” she wrote on Facebook. “He believed in me when very few others did.”
Goldey’s daughter wrote in a Facebook post that she always loved hearing the story of how her parents became a couple. It was love at first sight for Goldey, who called his mother after meeting the former Karen Abramson and told her he had just met the woman he would marry. He proposed four days later, and the two were married within about eight months. They had been together for 32 years.
Goldey had recently started teaching at the University of Saigon, using his business and communication skills to help students in Vietnam. He is survived by his wife and daughter as well as many cousins.
“Everyone’s still trying to wrap their head around it,” former colleague Joe Dera said. “He was a picture of health. … He had a larger-than-life personality.”