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Obit:Warren Hellman-Hardly Strictly Bluegrass-2011

open mike 19 Dec 11 - 01:24 PM
Seamus Kennedy 19 Dec 11 - 01:31 PM
GUEST 19 Dec 11 - 06:55 PM
GUEST 19 Dec 11 - 06:56 PM
michaelr 19 Dec 11 - 08:00 PM
GUEST,steve s 20 Dec 11 - 11:18 AM
GUEST,S.F. resident 21 Dec 11 - 12:33 PM
Joe Offer 23 Dec 11 - 07:16 PM
Joe Offer 23 Dec 11 - 07:44 PM
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Subject: Obit: Warren Hellman,Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
From: open mike
Date: 19 Dec 11 - 01:24 PM

There is sad news about Warren Hellman, 77.
I found a couple of links about his passing.
He was the founder of the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival
and banjo playing member of the musical group the Wronglers

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Subject: RE: Obit: Warren Hellman,Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 19 Dec 11 - 01:31 PM

I had the pleasure of meeting and singing with the gentleman at this year's HSB Festival. A lovely man who will be sorely missed. Good banjo picker and singer too.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Warren Hellman,Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
Date: 19 Dec 11 - 06:55 PM

He was funny, nice, generous, smart, self-effacing... just a thoroughly nice guy. I'm really glad I got to know him, and really, really sorry that he's gone. A life well lived.

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Subject: RE: Obit: Warren Hellman,Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
Date: 19 Dec 11 - 06:56 PM

whoops... that was Masha (who always forgets to log in).

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Subject: RE: Obit: Warren Hellman,Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
From: michaelr
Date: 19 Dec 11 - 08:00 PM

RIP. But there is good news, as well:

"And in 2001, Mr. Hellman sponsored a free, outdoor concert devoted to bluegrass music, a love he had nurtured for years.

"Since then, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival has grown into an annual three-day event drawing more than 300,000 people to Golden Gate Park. It is still free, with costs covered by an endowment that Hellman - an amateur banjo player - created to ensure that the festival would continue "after I croak," he said.

"His daughter Patricia Hellman Gibbs confirmed Sunday that "yes, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival will go on!"

Read more:

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Subject: RE: Obit: Warren Hellman,Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
From: GUEST,steve s
Date: 20 Dec 11 - 11:18 AM

despite the NYT assertion, warren was a member of the _old time music community_, and now sings in the angel band with hazel and mike.

clifftop in the sky will continue to grow as the years pass...

cu warren

steve s

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Subject: RE: Obit: Warren Hellman,Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
From: GUEST,S.F. resident
Date: 21 Dec 11 - 12:33 PM

Thank you for the JOY!!!! You are special. God Bless....

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Subject: RE: 2011 Obit:Warren Hellman-Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Dec 11 - 07:16 PM

Warren Hellman hired Debby McClatchy to perform at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival several times; and on April 18, 2006, as Lotta Crabtree at a pre-dawn commemoration of the San Francisco earthquake, so Debby thinks Warren Hellman was quite wonderful.

Here's the obituary from the New York Times

Warren Hellman, 77, Investor Who Loved Bluegrass, Dies

Published: December 19, 2011

Warren Hellman, a Wall Street investor who was president of Lehman Brothers and whose passion for bluegrass inspired him to create a San Francisco music festival that draws hundreds of thousands of people a year, died on Sunday in San Francisco. He was 77.

The cause was complications of leukemia, according to a spokeswoman for Hellman & Freidman, the investment firm he co-founded.

Mr. Hellman, whose parents came from two prominent San Francisco families, had a finance career on both coasts. After nearly 20 years at Lehman in New York, he started several money management businesses, including Hellman & Friedman in San Francisco, one of the country’s most successful private equity funds.

More recently Mr. Hellman focused on philanthropy, bestowing millions of dollars on cultural, educational and medical charities in the Bay Area.

The three-day concert he founded, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, held each year in Golden Gate Park, has been financed entirely by him.

Wiry, impish and informal — he favored frayed khakis and cowboy shirts — Mr. Hellman was something of a free spirit. He traveled around the country with his bluegrass band, the Wronglers, performing with them as recently as October. An accomplished endurance athlete, he twice completed a 100-mile running race through the Sierra Nevada mountains.

“Warren was an individualist,” said James D. Wolfensohn, the former president of the World Bank and a business-school classmate of Mr. Hellman’s. “He had the confidence and access that comes along with being from a prominent family, but never rested on his laurels and lived the life he wanted.”

Frederick Warren Hellman was born on July 25, 1934, in Manhattan. He was not, as many assumed, an heir to the Hellmann’s mayonnaise fortune; his pedigree was in the finance and rag trades. His father was Marco F. Hellman, an investment banker. His mother was the former Ruth Koshland, whose relatives were prosperous wool merchants in California.

His great-grandfather, Isaias W. Hellman, was a Jewish immigrant from Bavaria who became one of California’s leading financiers and served as president of Wells Fargo Nevada National Bank, which later became Wells Fargo.

Mr. Hellman grew up in San Francisco and graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, where he played varsity water polo. After graduating from Harvard Business School in 1959, he joined Lehman Brothers, where his uncle, Frederick L. Ehrman, was a senior executive and later chairman.

An aggressive dealmaker at Lehman, Mr. Hellman earned the nickname Hurricane Hellman. At 26, he became the youngest partner in the firm’s history, and in 1973, at 39, president. The firm’s partners ousted Mr. Ehrman that year, and Mr. Hellman had to deliver the news to his uncle.

In Ken Auletta’s 1985 book, “Greed and Glory on Wall Street: The Fall of the House of Lehman,” Mr. Hellman is quoted as saying that he couldn’t recall the expression on Mr. Ehrman’s face because he had stared at his uncle’s feet for the entire conversation. (He clearly remembered that Mr. Ehrman’s socks were gray and bunched around his ankles, however.)

After leaving Lehman in 1977, Mr. Hellman moved to Boston, where he helped start two investment firms: Hellman, Jordan, a manager of stock portfolios; and a venture capital fund that invested in start-up technology companies. That fund, now called Matrix Partners, was an early backer of Apple Computer.

After moving back to San Francisco, Mr. Hellman and Tully Friedman, an investment banker at Salomon Brothers, started Hellman & Friedman in 1984. He said he had set out to build a firm that did the exact opposite of Lehman, which he described as nasty and corrosive.

With Hellman & Friedman he orchestrated its buyout of Levi Strauss as well as its investments in the Nasdaq and the advertising company Young & Rubicam. Today the firm’s holdings include the media companies Getty Images and Nielsen.

Until recently Mr. Hellman arose daily at 4:30 a.m. for a 16-mile run through the Presidio before heading into the office. He was a five-time age group national champion in ride and tie, a combination of cross-country running and horseback riding. In the 1970s he co-founded the Stratton Mountain School in Vermont for competitive junior skiers and later served as president of the United States ski team.

He gradually turned over the management of Hellman & Friedman to his partners and concentrated on civic pursuits, among them the construction of an underground parking garage in Golden Gate Park and providing the financial backing for The Bay Citizen, a nonprofit local news organization that provides content to The New York Times.

Banjo picking and bluegrass were his longtime loves, and in 2001 he hosted a one-day free concert featuring Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is now a three-day event that draws more than 750,000 people a year, its organizers say. And it offers more than bluegrass; the rock stars Elvis Costello, Patti Smith and John Mellencamp have been among the performers. It has also featured the Wronglers, Mr. Hellman’s band, which released an album this year, “Heirloom Music,” with Jimmie Dale Gilmore.

Last week, city officials renamed Speedway Meadow, the site of the festival, Hellman’s Hollow.

Mr. Hellman’s wife of 56 years, Chris, survives him, as do four children, Mick, Tricia Gibbs, Frances Hellman and Judith Hellman; 12 grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.

In 2009, Mr. Hellman and his daughter Tricia, a doctor, celebrated a joint bar and bat mitzvah, ceremonies typically for 13-year-olds. Though he began studying the Torah in the 1980s, Mr. Hellman grew up secular, and neither he nor his children or grandchildren had had a bar mitzvah.

Mr. Hellman told a local Jewish weekly newspaper that the ritual — during which he wore a yarmulke bearing a “Cal” logo, an homage to his alma mater — had connected him to his past.

“After 75 years, I have come home,” he said.

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:

Correction: December 21, 2011

An obituary on Tuesday about Warren Hellman, the Wall Street investor and patron of bluegrass music, misspelled the name of the mayonnaise company that some mistakenly assumed his family founded. It is Hellmann’s, not Hellman’s.

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Subject: RE: 2011 Obit:Warren Hellman-Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Dec 11 - 07:44 PM

Here's an article from, the San Francisco Chronicle online edition:

    What Warren Hellman taught us

    Mark Mosher
    Friday, December 23, 2011

    Like waking to find Coit Tower toppled or Golden Gate Park erased from the map, news of Warren Hellman's passing leaves a disorienting void in San Francisco life.

    Once dubbed the "Warren Buffett of the West" by Business Week, Hellman, 77, was a force of nature in the financial world. He became the youngest partner at Lehman Bros. at 28 and went on to found the leveraged buyout and investment banking powerhouse that took Levi Strauss & Co. private. He invested in deals ranging from ad agency Young and Rubicam to Formula One Racing to the Nasdaq stock exchange itself.

    But it's Hellman's contributions to San Francisco politics, philanthropy and community that leave an indelible mark on our city.

    From cutting-edge research at the University of California to neighborhood schools in the Sunset District, from a newly rebuilt San Francisco General Hospital to the San Francisco Free Clinic run by his daughter and son-in-law, from museums to parks and parking garages - there's hardly a corner of San Francisco that Hellman didn't improve with his money, his time, his intellect and his compassion.

    A Republican, he was quirkily unpredictable and unapologetically outspoken in politics. He once wrote in the Wall Street Journal, "If George W. Bush was CEO of a large company, he'd be fired." Yet his endorsement was sought by candidates for supervisor, mayor and governor, from the most business-friendly to the most progressive.

    Not since clothing magnate Cyril Magnin - "Mr. San Francisco" - reigned as the city's leading philanthropist, political fundraiser and civic booster in the '50s and '60s has a business leader so personified San Francisco.

    I worked for Warren on and off for nearly 20 years as an assistant, adviser and sometimes ghostwriter. He was rightly concerned about whether the next generation of businesspeople would become so focused on increasing profits and amassing personal wealth that they wouldn't set aside the time to help keep the city great.

    The good news is that, while they may have broken the mold when they made Hellman, he left behind a good set of blueprints. Here's the advice I think he'd give to the next "Mr. or Ms. San Francisco":

    Get rid of the gatekeepers

    At a time when many CEOs are hyper-scheduled, over-handled and hidden behind a phalanx of spokespeople and lawyers, Hellman was almost shockingly available. He would meet with anyone who interested him, usually without staff. If the meeting was offsite, he usually drove himself.

    Shortly after one of his several campaigns to keep the de Young Museum and Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park by building an underground parking garage, I learned that he met with Pinky Kushner, a local activist whom some had accused of stealing our campaign signs from light poles using a specially modified pickup truck with a stepladder in the back.

    "Why did you meet with her?" I asked.

    "I collect interesting people," he smiled back.

    But it wasn't just entertainment. Hellman's accessibility and willingness to meet people outside his own social stratum gave him a unique perspective and unrivaled intelligence on street-level politics. An avid Sinophile, Warren correctly predicted the ascendance of Chinese American political power in San Francisco. He was the first business leader to organize a meeting between the CEOs of big local firms and the heads of the Chinese family associations - the Six Companies - in Chinatown.

    Don't dismantle government, fix it

    While many of his contemporaries backed efforts to shrink the role of government - either through antitax campaigns, the Tea Party or anti-public-employee campaigns in Wisconsin and Ohio, Hellman invested more and more of his time on measures to raise money for public parks, hospitals and schools. Hellman, like many of San Francisco's other household-name business leaders (Doug Shorenstein, Don Fisher), was a graduate of San Francisco's public schools and a staunch supporter of public education. He also believed that many wealthy people could afford to pay higher taxes.

    This is not to say he wasn't critical of how government operates. He worked on Wall Street during the '70s when New York City almost went bankrupt and had to be taken over temporarily by a committee of bankers. He railed against wasteful spending, poor planning and corruption. Yet he wasn't willing to scapegoat firefighters, police officers and service employees to do it.

    Get involved in the nuts and bolts

    Ultimately, the secret to Hellman's effectiveness was his ability to bring together San Francisco's most divergent power players to address some of San Francisco's most intractable, politically difficult and intellectually impenetrable problems.

    Some days, I felt as if Hellman had a magic touch for seeking out issues that were both fraught with political difficulty and completely unsexy - like his decade-long effort to build an underground garage in Golden Gate Park. In hindsight, it was a brilliant plan: The garage kept two of the city's major museums from leaving the park, paved the way for the popular street closure program and kept the park from slipping into disuse and neglect, like Central Park in the '70s.

    But perhaps the greatest example of his ability to work under the hood of city government was his recent campaign to reform the city's employee pension system. He kicked off a meeting of some of the city's top labor and business leaders by joking that "never have so many important people come together to spend so much time on something so boring."

    Months later, he emerged with a landslide election victory on a consensus measure that will save the city hundreds of millions of dollars over its lifetime.

    Sadly, the job of Mr./Ms. San Francisco is vacant again and the successful applicant has an enormous set of shoes to fill. After all, Warren left his heart here.

    Mark Mosher is a partner in Whitehurst Mosher, a local political campaign management firm.

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