Hellman, 77, Dies In SF Of Leukemia

Warren Hellman, co-founder of the private equity firm Hellman & Friedman and a prominent philanthropist, died Dec. 18 in San Francisco of complications from leukemia. He was 77.

Hellman was a star banker at Lehman Bros. and later helped build his namesake firm into one of the United States’ largest buyout firms, with some $25 billion invested since the firm launched in 1984. Its current holdings include about 20 portfolio companies, among them Getty Images, the Nielsen Co. and Internet Brands.

Hellman had retired from say-to-day management but remained active at the firm. He was well-known locally for his philanthropy, especially for his underwriting of the annual Hardly Strictly Bluegrass music festival in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.

Hellman told friends early last year that he had leukemia, and publicly disclosed his condition in the fall. His sudden death from complications from treatment was unexpected.

Hellman was known for his humor and iconoclastic ways, which included a preference for ragged clothing and a devotion to the banjo. He was active in local politics and brokered a compromise last year between city unions and elected officials on municipal pension reform.

In 2009, Hellman contributed $5 million to start The Bay Citizen, a nonprofit online news site. The Bay Citizen said that its financial future was secure thanks to more than $17 million in fundraising.

“Warren was San Francisco, and his passion for the city ran deep,” Phil Bronstein, the former editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, told The Bay Citizen. “His philanthropy and quiet leadership were unparalleled.”

He is survived by his wife, Patricia Christina Sander Hellman, four children, 12 grandchildren and one great grandchild.