Warren Hellman, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass patron, Dies At 77

Warren Hellman, the prominent Bay Area philanthropist best known for sponsoring the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in Golden Gate Park since 2001, has passed away due to complications of leukemia at age 77, his family announced.

The festival, which has remained free to visitors for the past decade due to Hellman’s sponsorship, has expanded to bring in 300,000+ visitors annually over the course of the 3-day event. And Hellman ensured his generosity would carry on without him, creating an endowment to fund the festival after his passing. Patricia Hellman Gibbs, his daughter, confirmed Sunday: “yes, the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival will go on!”

Just a week ago, Hellman learned of The San Francisco Recreation and Park Commission’s decision to rename Speedway Meadow, the heart of the festival grounds in Golden Gate Park, to Hellman Hollow in his honor. Has a great ring to it for Hardly Strictly 2012.

Please take the time to read SFGate’s excellent retrospective on Hellman’s life as a businessman, philanthropist and patron of Bay Area arts and education.