Tributes to the A-Listers We Lost

By Paul Wilner

Norah Stone, who passed away last September, at the SFMOMA Directors Circle Dinner. (Drew Altizer Photography)

Norah Stone

The Bay Area arts and philanthropic community mourned as one when Norah Stone, 81, lost her battle with cancer at Cal Pacific Medical Center last September. Stone, known for her whimsical, fashion-forward outfits, was a fixture at social events around the City and often hosted parties with husband Norman at their homes in Pacific Heights and Napa.

Stone was a fearless art collector with deep social commitments. A former nurse, she supervised the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic’s first volunteer nursing staff in 1967 and later volunteered for NARAL and San Francisco’s Child Abuse Center. A trustee and generous donor to SFMOMA, she also held positions with the Whitney Museum and Tate International Council. Among other conversation-starting artworks, the Stones — who together projected a haute bohemian cool — owned erotic pot-holders by Marcel Duchamp, and pieces from Andy Warhol, Joseph Beuys, Bruce Nauman, Richard Serra and Matthew Barney.

Stone is remembered by her good friend, famed San Francisco party planner Stanlee Gatti, who arranged her posthumous tribute at SFMOMA: When she passed, it came as a shock because of all those times she’d been sick, and you’d think, “This time, she’s looking better.” Norman’s Christmas card this year was a picture of the two of them, and when you opened it up, it was a quote from her, saying: “Norman, tell everyone we know the only thing we know for certain is that we will die. So make the best of every moment of every day.”

He and Norah were soulmates who could finish each other’s sentences and knew each other inside and out. And they were very honest with what they said to one another, regardless of who they were in front of. There were no taboos — if you were being truthful, whatever you said was right. When Norman called me to tell me about Norah, I went up to the house and you could see the strength behind his fragility.

SFMOMA] Director Neal Benezra welcomed everyone to the memorial, which was held upstairs in the Schwab Room. Norman spoke, and so did [the artist] Theaster Gates, and Norah and Norman’s spiritual adviser, Orgyen Chowang Rinpoche. And the program had a beautiful poem by [publisher] Charles Hobson called “Skipping’’ [about the Stones’ initial meeting]. We created a giant closet for the event and put together some of Norah’s outrageous outfits. The middle of the closet had a mirror, and in the mirror, we screened an image of Norah looking at herself. Norah and Norman didn’t have boundaries or care what the rest of San Francisco society thought. They did their thing and hoped people would understand it. If people didn’t, that was OK, because they were comfortable within themselves. Seeing them for me was the same as seeing the Brown twins [the famous San Francisco sisters who dressed alike] on the street. It just made me happy.

PR maven Allison Speer: Norah was such a loyal friend. She and Norman attended all my store openings dressed head to toe in the designer — both of them! From Gucci to Dolce & Gabbana to Valentino, all my friends fell in love with them. I adored her eccentric sense of style and admired her and Norman’s close love. Norah will be missed beyond words.

Along with her family, “Moo” Anderson was among the premier art collectors in the country.

‘Moo’ Anderson

Mary Margaret “Moo’’ Anderson’s passage last October at her Peninsula home at the age of 92 was the final chapter in a life well lived. Along with her husband, Harry “Hunk’’ Anderson, and their daughter, Putter, the Andersons were among the premier art collectors in the country, famed as much for their lack of pretension as their flawless taste in art over the span of decades. They contributed to SFMOMA and the Fine Arts Museums, and their largesse culminated in the opening of the Anderson Collection museum at Stanford in 2014, featuring works by Helen Frankenthaler, Franz Kline, Mark Rothko, Frank Stella and Wayne Thiebaud, along with Jackson Pollock’s Lucifer, Richard Diebenkorn’s Ocean Park #60 and Sam Francis’ Redon Red, among many others. (When she and Hunk first met, she earned the nickname “Moo” after he mispronounced her name.)

Jason Linetzy, director of the Anderson Collection, remembers her: The Andersons were the first to say collecting was a family affair. Moo was interested in the stories behind the work, and asking questions of the artists. Something she especially brought to the collection was the family’s great love of books, including exhibition catalogs and art history — a phenomenal collection left us as an educational tool. She liked to tell stories of visiting Josef Albers and a wonderful visit the family made to his studio. They also had a great relationship with Philip Guston. They visited him in upstate New York, and Philip and his wife, Musa, would stay with them in California too. I think Moo was the person who introduced Diebenkorn’s work to the family too. Her sense of curiosity never dimmed.

Fred Levin and Nancy Livingston in 2018. (Drew Altizer Photography)

Nancy Livingston

Nancy Livingston’s death in November following a heroic struggle with cancer was a blow to the Bay Area arts community, as well as to the 72-year-old’s devoted husband, Fred Levin, and their children and grandchildren.

Born in Ohio, Livingston met Levin after moving to San Francisco in 1971 and working at an advertising agency. Both were strong supporters of the arts, in part through the Levin family’s Shenson Foundation. Livingston, the former chair of the American Conservatory Theater and vice chair of Cal Performances, was also a board member at Congregation Rodef Sholom in San Rafael.

Former American Conservatory Theater director Carey Perloff remembers her friend: The minute we met, we were like soul mates. She was a truly remarkable person and a joy to work with, which is extremely rare. One of her first tasks was to help get us through the recession — she not only managed to do that, she raised the endowment!

After moving from Mill Valley to Nob Hill, she’d call me almost every morning after doing qigong [Chinese exercises] in the park. She’d say, “Thelma, it’s Louise.” If we did fundraising and it didn’t go so well, the next day I’d feel defeated. But she’d say, “It’s just a ‘no’ — the next time they’ll say yes.”

She was incredibly connected — when she called people, it wasn’t asking for charity. She’d say, “I wish you’d consider joining Fred and me”— inviting them to join a great adventure. She wore these little sparkly sneakers to walk down to A.C.T. and she was supportive of the whole staff, which was very unusual. She was not the kind of trustee who made work for the staff; she understood how hard it was to run an organization.

The other thing I adored about her is that she was endlessly curious, genuinely interested in how artists work. She went with me to the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut, and came to rehearsals and readings. She particularly loved young artists, came to all of their shows. She and Fred would have them over for Thanksgiving and the holidays too. This was true of her work for the SF Symphony and Opera too. She felt it was critical to support artists in the early stages of their career.

She was very excited for A.C.T. to take its place on the national stage. She was also an incredible mentor to a whole generation of trustees, including current president Kay Yun— not just raising money but setting an example. 

She was also critical in the launch of the Strand Theater in 2015. Getting something built in San Francisco is not easy, but if she got frustrated, she’d go see Mayor Ed Lee and he’d say, “Nancy, I’m in your corner.”

I was in rehearsal in Calgary doing Merchant of Venice when I got a cell phone call from Fred and I just knew she was gone. I can’t tell you what joy her friendship gave me.

Alan Malouf attends San Francisco Ballet Opening Night Gala in 2016. (Drew Altizer Photography)

Alan Malouf

Alan Malouf, the “dapper dentist’’ known for his sharp wardrobe, celebrity clientele and faithful patronage of the San Francisco arts scene, died in late June following a recurrence of the multiple myeloma he had been valiantly fighting.

The 62-year-old had been a regular presence at “Box B’’ of the San Francisco Opera. Malouf was also a collector of everything from California plein art to Chinese porcelain, antiques, and paintings by artists from Andy Warhol to Norman Rockwell. His collection of personal cufflinks was featured in the San Francisco Chronicle, and his Pacific Heights home was featured on Bravo’s Million Dollar Listing. He also was lead sponsor of the 2009 Cartier jewelry exhibition at the Legion of Honor — another notch on his fabulous resume.

His devoted sister, Carol Malouf Atkeson, remembers him well: Alan was born in San Francisco, but our family moved to Hillsborough around 1963, and that’s where we grew up. He went to San Mateo High, then graduated from UC Berkeley and the University of Pacific Dental School.

But he had many other talents — he took piano lessons, and enjoyed playing and listening to everyone from Vince Guaraldi to Miles Davis and classical music. He had so many interests. He was also an avid bridge player who would play with my father in tournaments. And he was a member of the Prince of Wales society. He had pictures taken with Prince Charles and Camilla.

He was an impeccable dresser. When I walked into Kiton in New York or Brioni in L.A., they’d greet me and say, “I’ve known your brother for years.” He had so many friends in New York and L.A. — Rick and Kathy Hilton. … Rick spoke at his memorial at the Olympic Club, as did Academy of Art University President Elisa Stephens, who helped me host it and was amazing.

In New York, he was friends with Susan Gutfreund, and Patty and Anne Hearst. Charlie, the doorman at his Park Avenue apartment, broke into tears when he heard the news.

Even when he was being treated at UCSF, he knew every nurse’s name and he gave some of his opera tickets to his favorite nurse.

Denise Bradley-Tyson and Bernard Tyson in 2013. (Drew Altizer Photography)

Bernard Tyson

When Bernard Tyson died suddenly in November, the 60-year-old left a trail of stunned tributes in his wake. Tyson’s high-profile inner circle included wife Denise Bradley-Tyson, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown and Common Spirit boss Lloyd Dean among many others. As the CEO of Kaiser Permanente, where he worked for more than 34 years, Tyson broke ground: He became the first African American to hold the post, where he kept the needs of underserved communities in mind while undertaking difficult managerial and labor relations tasks with style and aplomb.

Dean recalls Tyson: I came to San Francisco from Chicago in 2000. Obviously, I’d heard of Bernard Tyson, and the work they were doing at Kaiser, as a significant force in health care in the nation. Folks like Willie Brown wanted to introduce me to other leaders in the community who were also people of color. As a natural set of us coming together, we became engaged as close friends and colleagues — and in some cases even competitors! We were both doing our job, but always very respectful of each other.

Both of us had a special focus on health inequities affecting the resources needed for the most vulnerable communities. Bernard and I worked very closely together on trying to ensure health care access for all, working closely to do everything possible locally and nationally to help the Obama administration on the Affordable Care Act. I don’t know what took place in the meetings he attended [after Trump got elected], but it certainly did not silence his voice as an advocate for health care. It’s important to have relationships with people who agree with you, and who don’t. The need for justice in health care supersedes politics. 

We had a lot of personal conversations about our journey, and the forks in the road we’d taken, but mostly we talked about how blessed we were — and the importance of perseverance, confidence, competence, being prepared, relationships and listening. Also, having the courage to stand alone when things get tough. The AfroTech conference he attended in Oakland just before he died was an example of how he’d seize every opportunity to try to be a resource for others, on behalf of health care’s need for qualified, strong and diverse employees. …

He was a very skilled executive and strategic thinker. He was decisive, but a phenomenal listener, always willing to sit down and listen to anyone to get different perspectives. He really cared about Kaiser members and appreciated the opportunity to be a beacon for Kaiser Permanente. He was a strong man and a good, caring human being.

Peter Magowan poses with the World Series trophies in 2015.

Peter Magowan

Peter Magowan’s death at 76 in January 2019 marked the end of an era for sports fans in the Bay Area and the nation. The former chief executive at Safeway Stores moved off the business pages and into the sports section in the summer of 1992, when he led a group of local investors raising $100 million to keep the Giants from moving to Florida. Even more impressively, they managed to build a privately funded new ball park for the team after public money had repeatedly been rejected at the ballot box. He brought back beloved Hall of Famer Willie Mays to a formal role with the team, along with Willie McCovey and others. And he signed controversial superstar Barry Bonds to a six-year $43 million contract, paving the way to future World Series victories (and headlines about Bonds’ alleged steroid use). He left behind his wife, Deborah Magowan, four daughters, a son and 13 grandchildren.

Larry Baer, Magowan’s successor as Giants CEO, was along for the ride every step of the way. He remembers his friend and colleague here:  I felt like I had a 40-year conversation with Peter, and it went through multiple layers. I first met him when I had a marketing job with the Giants right after graduating from Berkeley. He was CEO of Safeway but on the Giants board, and we talked as passionate fans — he growing up watching Willie Mays at the Polo Grounds and me watching Willie at Candlestick. Fast forward to ’92, when the Giants had lost their fourth election to build a ballpark. I contacted Peter and said, “This cannot happen.” He said, “You’re right! We have to do something.” But it seemed like a foregone conclusion. I still have the headline in my office: “Giants Moving to Florida,’’ like “Dewey Beats Truman.”

What Peter’s dad taught him was to never give up — if you really believe in something, never think the odds are too long. So we ventured together to put together investors. But when it became clear we couldn’t find someone to take a controlling interest … I said, “Peter, why don’t you run it?’’ He said, “I don’t know, I’m running Safeway now. … I’ll have to think about it.’’ He called me the next day and said, “I’ll leave Safeway if you leave CBS and we can do this together.” For 17 years we were in each other’s office five times a day. 

People thought of Peter as a conservative businessman, but Until There’s a Cure Day [the Giants’ AIDS awareness fundraiser] was his idea, and he supported all our community initiatives.

He’d only sit in the [executive] suite when absolutely forced to — he’d much rather sit with the fans on a cool, wind-swept night. He loved walking around the park before Opening Day — our ball-park manager, Jorge Costa, called it the “white glove walk-through.’’ To this day, that’s how we do things.

Related Articles

Check Also
Back to top button