Longtime San Francisco benefactor Ann Getty dies at 79

Ann Getty, a longtime benefactor of the arts and culture in San Francisco, died Monday. She was 79.

She died of a heart attack, her husband Gordon Getty said.

A native of Wheatland, California, Ann Getty and her husband Gordon Getty, an oil heir and billionaire philanthropist, were a regular presence of San Francisco's upper-crust society events.

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A designer and philanthropist, Ann Getty dedicated her life to the fields of anthropology, publishing, interior design, and early childhood development, the family said in a statement.

"Generosity, in friendship and philanthropy, was a hallmark of Mrs. Getty, who opened the family home to numerous fundraisers supporting a range of nonprofits," they said.

Ann Getty founded a San Francisco preschool and helped raise funds for numerous nonprofits, including the University of California, San Francisco, the San Francisco Symphony, Benioff Children's Hospitals, the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, the San Francisco Opera, the Leakey Foundation and the Napa Valley Festival.
"Though the Gettys traveled the world attending numerous music and arts festivals, Mrs. Getty was a great San Franciscan who treasured spending time with her extended family, whether attending opening night at the San Francisco Symphony or the San Francisco Giants season home opener at Oracle Park," her family said.

Ann and Gordon Getty were also close to Gov. Gavin Newsom. Newsom's late father William Newsom, became a close friend of Gordon Getty after the two attended the same San Francisco high school. The son of oil magnate J. Paul Getty, Gordon Getty helped finance Gavin Newsom's first wine shop in 1992, which later grew into a successful business line.

J. Paul Getty was at one time the world's richest man. In 1973, his eldest grandson, Jean Paul III was kidnapped by Italian gangsters and held for $3.2 million ransom. The family paid after the boy's severed ear was sent to an Italian newspaper.

The elder Newsom managed Gordon Getty's family trust, and helped deliver the ransom money after the kidnapping.

Ann Getty is survived by her husband, their sons, Peter, John, and William Getty; grandchildren Ivy Getty; Nicholas, Alexander, and Veronica Getty; and Ava and Dexter Getty.

Governor Gavin Newsom released this statement after the death of Getty:

"Jennifer and I were heartbroken to learn of the passing of Ann Getty. Ann's kindness and generosity knew no bounds. She has been there for me and my family in our most important moments - from joyful occasions to times of pain and sadness. An icon of San Francisco, Ann left an indelible mark on the city and helped make it a place where the arts and culture could flourish. San Francisco is a greater and more vibrant city because of her creativity and spirit of generosity. Ann's legacy will endure in the spaces she designed, the causes she championed and the people she cared for and inspired. Our prayers are with the Getty family as they mourn the loss of this extraordinary woman - a partner, mother, grandmother and friend to so many. She was one of the most gracious and generous individuals we have ever known."

Speak Nancy Pelosi released a statement on the passing of Getty:

"Paul and I are heartbroken to learn of the passing of our dear friend Ann Getty. Ann loved San Francisco and dedicated her extraordinary life to strengthening and enriching the cultural life of our community and building a brighter future for all who call our city home.

For this she was well known, but Ann took special pride in being a wonderful mother and grandmother. All those who were blessed to know Ann knew her as a woman of exceptional generosity and spirit. Ann cared deeply for the well-being of others, always opening her beautiful home to raise awareness for the causes closest to her heart. Whether it was securing quality, affordable education and health care for our children or preserving our environment and our natural heritage for generations to come, Ann was a leader who sought to advance progress for all. As a philanthropist, Ann took particular pride in her work lifting up San Francisco's world-renowned arts institutions, helping them reach new audiences and bring our community and our nation closer together.

Ann was also a champion in the study of paleo-anthropology. Whether participating in digs in Africa or presiding at discussions by renown scientists in the field, she brought us closer to our origins. This was an interest that she and Gordon shared.

Through her dedication and love, Ann leaves a beautiful legacy for our city and for all those who carry on her crucial work. May it be a comfort to her husband, Gordon, her sons, Peter, John and William, her grandchildren and the entire Getty family that so many mourn their loss and are praying for them at this sad time."
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