Businessman, philanthropist, banjo man Warren Hellman died this past weekend at the age of 77. We discuss Hellman’s life and legacy, including his efforts to “save journalism” and his annual gift to San Francisco, the free Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival.

Jane Ganahl, journalist for the Bay Citizen
Frances Dinkelspiel, author and freelance journalist. She is Warren Hellman's cousin.
Susan Hirsch, adviser to Warren Hellman on issues of philanthropy. A friend for 30 years.

  • FayNissenbaum

    Truth before slathering praise: The Golden Gate Parking Garage has been a failure (rates too high for many park go-ers), not delivering on its promise. In yet another wool-over-the-eyes of voters who passed Proposition J in 1998, the Concourse Authority that was created from it has been criticized for building an underground garage that both diverges what was promised, and has not met expectations in removing cars from the park nor being affordable to park go-ers. No one has nor can argue that Warren’s garage is a success, so why laud him for it? 
    GGP neighbor

  • Debbie Ford-Scriba

    and saddened by the passing of philanthropist, bluegrass lover &
    banjo player Warren Hellman, who gave so much to so many people he never
    met. Truly a life well lived. RIP, Warren.

  • poinsot

    Warren Hellman, whom I never met, enriched my life so much through Hardly, Strictly Bluegrass. I’ve had so much enjoyment over the past ten years — all the music I’ve heard most of which I probably never would have given a chance. And all the T Bone and Elvis I wanted almost every year. For those San Franciscans who begrudge him a parking garage, you can always change the rates in a parking garage or even fill it in with dirt – it just doesn’t matter when compared to his generous support for so many diverse organizations and his gift to the City of the best run, most polyglot festival of all. 

    • FayNissenbaum

      Criticism of the garage and how it diverted from both its architectural and funding promises (legislated!) are easy to find – it’s hardly the opinion of malcontents. Warren achieved alot, no doubt. I do however quibble with Hardly Strictly’s deviations into loud rap and rock to the dismay of park neighbors and I certainly quibble with a news program glowing like Pollyanna over every single thing Warren has done. Levis left the City – yet it was touted as one of Warren’s investment successes. His attacks on all public worker pensions hid that we should all have retirement benefits that match the city – not that we should throw bricks at fellow citizens. Reading and comprehending (the legislative and economic impacts) City issues requires work; cheerleading does not.

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