San Francisco leaders pay tribute to Warren Hellman

The day after Warren Hellman’s death, community leaders issued a barrage of public statements, reflecting on the outsized impact the philanthropist and businessman had upon San Francisco.

The 77-year-old died Sunday after battling leukemia. A public memorial in his honor will take place at 1 p.m. Wednesday at Congregation Emanu-El, 2 Lake St., at Arguello Boulevard.

“San Francisco is, without a doubt, a better city because of the charity and love Warren shared with his community,” Lt. Gov. and former Mayor Gavin Newsom said in a statement Monday.

Hellman’s work with The City’s political leaders and dedication to public schools were among the contributions his colleagues and friends remembered Monday.

“If there was anyone who was a patron saint of the school district, it was Warren Hellman,” San Francisco Unified School District Superintendent Carlos Garcia said. “I always used to joke about that with him because Jewish folks don’t have patron saints.”

Hellman loved a good joke, Garcia added.

Among his greatest contributions to The City was the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, which he put on annually, free of charge to the public.

By Monday, the festival’s website had been transformed into a tribute to Hellman, featuring photos of him with MC Hammer, Elvis Costello and other musicians.

The website noted that next year’s festival is still on, scheduled for Oct. 5 through Oct. 7.

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