San Francisco Opera is grateful to all our supporters for their generous and varied forms of charitable giving. A legacy gift to San Francisco Opera is both a tribute to the past and a confident investment in the exciting future of this Company and the wonderful, multifaceted opera art form. Learn more about some of the people who have chosen to ensure the future of opera.
Why I Give
“It truly is a world class company that brings the best singers possible into the best productions possible, executed with the highest level of artistry by everybody, whether it’s on-stage, behind the scenes, the support staff, everybody is a real artist working at the highest level, and I have never seen anything better anywhere else.”
“You don’t really have to be extremely wealthy to consider a legacy donation, and that after thinking about it for a while I realized that I could support San Francisco Opera in that fashion, and to do so would help ensure that there would be quality opera productions for years to come.”
“As St. Augustine said, ‘Where your treasure is, there is your heart; where your heart is, there is your happiness.’ I believe that’s true, and my heart is certainly with the Opera.”
Barbara has loved opera since she was a child and, after settling in Davis, California with her husband, she began attending San Francisco Opera. After nearly 40 years as a subscriber, Barbara is more involved than ever. An avid fan of young artists, she sponsors an Adler Fellow each year and enjoys getting to know all of the young singers. “There have been so many talented young artists to emerge from the Adler Fellowship Program and become the stars of the future. It’s a thrill to get to know them and watch their talent grow.” Beyond her annual sponsorship of an Adler Fellow, Barbara has created a named endowment fund through her living trust that will provide a permanent source of support for the Adler program. “Opera has always been important to me, and it’s gratifying to know that my gift will ensure a steady flow of outstanding new singers who will continue to breathe life into the glorious music at San Francisco Opera and beyond.”
Terri and Bob Ryan
“The Opera is our first priority. It’s hard to imagine not being involved with this Company and the people – onstage and off – who make it come alive. Since we can’t be here forever, we’ve ensured that our spirit will be”
To say that Terri and Bob are devoted opera fans is an understatement. A newspaper interviewer even called them “opera junkies.” They’ve been known to leave family gatherings at the Holidays to attend the Opera. And volunteering at San Francisco Opera is a way of life. They’ve stamped parking passes, stuffed envelopes, set up and knocked down countless folding chairs, ushered, been ticket takers, worked in the Opera Shop, picked people up at the airport, chauffeured visiting artists to the grocery store, and hosted singers, accompanists, directors, and anyone else the Opera Company has needed temporary housing for, to name just a few of their volunteer skills. The Ryans have made many, many close friends, both within the Company and with visiting artists over the years. Traveling to see their friends perform has taken them to many wonderful locales, from Paris and Vienna to Sarasota, but returning to San Francisco is always the best part of the journey. Opera occupies the majority of their time and resources now, and they’ve made sure it will continue to be supported after they’re gone, by making San Francisco Opera Association the beneficiary of their retirement accounts. As Bob says, “Obsessed? Well, yes. We can think of worse things to be addicted to.”
Jim and the late Jayne Heagy
“Our charitable remainder trust was a great way to convert highly appreciated assets into regular income for us without having to pay capital gains taxes. When our trust is added to the Opera Endowment, it will commemorate our longtime mutual involvement and continue our support after we both are gone.”
Music was a common bond when Jim and Jayne Heagy met in 1964. They were classical music fans who discovered their passion for opera in 1984, and became devoted fans shortly after. Jim and Jayne served as ushers for the Opera for nine years before purchasing front row season tickets. “Jayne liked to get dressed up, and we both loved being close to the stage,” says Jim, “It’s a different show up close.” In 2004, Jim was contemplating the sale of an apartment building, having the desire to convert the greatly appreciated asset to income. He had previously established a charitable remainder trust (CRT) with the Opera as beneficiary. “I was going to have a large short-term capital gain on some stock options so the choice was giving it to the Opera or giving a big chunk to the IRS” noted Jim. “This trust had worked out very well, earning interest on the portion the IRS and State would have taken and paying us a nice income” By donating the apartment house to the CRT, we saved more than $200,000 in capital gains taxes, got a large tax deduction for the donation, and substantially increased our after-sale monthly income. And, of course, it was extremely gratifying to be able to offer our support of the Opera.” The Heagys especially enjoyed getting to know many young artists who have participated in the Merola Opera Program as well as San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellowship. Despite these special interests, Jim and Jayne’s endowment gift is unrestricted. As Jim says, “We want our gift to reinforce this Company’s future and make sure that many more talented singers and devoted fans will love San Francisco Opera as much as we do.” Jayne passed away in April 2007, but Jim continues to volunteer for many tasks and still sits in the front row, giving Jayne’s seat to a friend, a lucky standee, or a new “victim,” as he calls people he wants to introduce to opera.
“Opera is my passion and San Francisco Opera is my first love. It gives me great satisfaction to leave a significant portion of my estate – my home – to help ensure the Opera’s future.”
As a single woman, Ruth contemplated how members of her extended family would benefit from a gift via her estate, particularly the gift of her beautiful home. With little family living in the area, no one was interested in moving into the home or keeping it as a rental property (given the cost of maintaining a home in the Bay Area). Says Ruth, “It quickly became obvious that a bequest of my home to the charity I love made the most sense. And since I cannot provide large annual gifts to the Opera, leaving my greatest asset to them is one way I can demonstrate my ongoing commitment to the Company.” As a longtime subscriber and Opera board member, and as chairwoman of the Opera’s legacy giving committee, Ruth knows San Francisco Opera well and urges everyone who loves the Opera to join the Bel Canto Legacy Society.
Steve Eimer and Kevin Ann Cartwright
“When we created our estate plans, it was important to provide for our family, but we also wanted to give back to the organizations that mean a lot to us. San Francisco Opera is one of our favorites and we are proud to leave a bequest that will benefit the Opera family of the future.”
Estate planning is not considered a “fun” task by the vast majority of people. But for Kevin and Steve, it’s a process they’ve come to enjoy. Kevin says, “It’s kind of like Christmas. You think of all the important people and organizations in your life and decide what you want to give them. It’s fun!” Now that their plans are in place, periodic reviews take much less time and ensure that Kevin and Steve stay one step ahead of potential estate taxes, and that they continue to give back to the people and places that are special to them. Steve adds, “It’s never too early to create an estate plan. It gives us peace of mind knowing that we have made thoughtful decisions about our bequests, and that those gifts will benefit such extraordinary organizations as San Francisco Opera.
“I want to express my personal gratitude to each of you for your support of San Francisco Opera. Like you, I have included a bequest to the Opera in my estate plan because I love this Company and believe in what it is doing. From educating young audiences, to training the singers of tomorrow, to presenting world-class productions, San Francisco Opera plays a major role on the international stage. I have been associated with the Company since 1960, and I feel privileged to have been part of its history, and a part of its future, as well. Thank you for joining me as Bel Canto Legacy Society members.”
Don Buhman and C. Wray Humphrey
“Naming San Francisco Opera as beneficiary of our separate retirement accounts enabled us to leave a lasting remembrance that recognizes the importance of opera in our lives.”
While still a student, Don Buhman began his association with San Francisco Opera as a supernumerary in 1956, the era of Renata Tebaldi and Jussi Bjoerling. The San Francisco resident hasn’t missed a season since that time. Wray Humphrey first began attending the Opera in the sixties after moving from southern California, where he attended opera as a youth. He has enjoyed the Opera Guild’s Marin Chapter events over the years and has attended San Francisco Opera performances with Don since 1984. Members of the Bel Canto Legacy Society since 1995, Don and Wray hope that opera will continue to be important to future audiences. “Through our separate bequests, we will help in a small way to make this happen,” says Wray. “The Opera is a cultural and intellectual institution that adds great value to the Bay Area. We are proud to be associated with it and the Bel Canto Legacy Society.”
January 15, 1923 – July 3, 2010
“After 40 years of managing my own apartment, I was ready for a break. San Francisco Opera helped me create a charitable remainder trust that will sell the building and send me quarterly income payments, avoiding capital gains taxes on the sale. I have always loved opera because it brings together all the performing arts I enjoy. Eventually my trust will provide San Francisco Opera with a significant gift to help bring continued joy to others in the future.”
Growing up in San Francisco, Bernice Strube listened to the Metropolitan Opera radio broadcasts as a child and became entranced immediately. B said, “My father thought it was horrible! But to me, it was the most wonderful thing to hear.” Her youthful sense of adventure turned into a lifetime of notable achievements and travel, frequently including opera performances along the way. After graduating Phi Beta Kappa from UC-Berkeley with a degree in Business, Bernice entered the U.S. Navy, became a finance officer, and rose to the rank of Full Lieutenant. She was released from the Navy in 1949, but chose to enlist with the Army and, once again a finance officer, continued her military service until 1957. B spent three and a half years in Heidelberg during her Army career. She took advantage of this location by skiing frequently and traveling throughout Europe to see opera performances. “My favorite opera is Der Rosenkavalier. I tried to see that in every opera house that presented it!” As a captain in the U.S. Army, Bernice was a “crack shot” and participated in the 3rd Army Rifle Matches. In 1955, she took fourth place and proudly displays the trophy to this day. After leaving the Army, Bernice enrolled at Stanford University, receiving her MBA degree in 1958. She found a job in the Accounts Payable department at Macy’s California and created the position of Manual Systems Designer – a role she held until her retirement in 1982. She continued to make travel a highlight of her life, venturing to such exotic locations as Africa, Mongolia, the Silk Road, Thailand, Malaysia, Antarctica (twice!), and Timbuktu. Bernice bought her first San Francisco Opera subscription in 1958 and attended performances regularly until 2008, when the Bay Bridge commute became too stressful. “The Opera was such a wonderful place. The singers, the music, the acting, and the dancing combined all the performing arts into one experience. I just loved it.” During her retail career, B began acquiring real estate in San Francisco. She lived in one of these properties until 2002, when she moved to Walnut Creek and continued to manage her properties from the East Bay. Bernice had many charitable interests and in recent years, she turned each of her apartment complexes into a charitable remainder trust (CRT) to benefit these favored charities. “Managing property is a lot of work and after 40 years of doing it, I was ready for a break. Using these properties to create extra income for me – without the responsibilities of property management and without having to pay capital gains taxes– made so much sense. A CRT was the perfect solution.” B’s CRT, which benefited San Francisco Opera, was funded with her last apartment building, which was then sold by her trust. The trust principal was added to the Opera’s Board-restricted endowment. B’s very generous gift commemorated her 52-year involvement with San Francisco Opera and helped keep the Opera alive for generations to come.
Barbara Ward Wonder
“Barbara’s love affair with San Francisco Opera started when she was a student at Mills College, and continues going strong today”
My love affair with San Francisco Opera started as a student at Mills College, listening to KKHI radio playing the most approachable, easy- listening choruses. I was hooked.
Later my husband and I started with three or four operas each season at the War Memorial Opera House, sitting in the last row of the balcony. I have since sat in all sections and been a ticket holder for all series. Eventually we became full season ticket holders, enjoying many exciting performances of this complete art form. Voices, instruments, drama, and excitement—all in one package. What could be better?
It was an easy choice for me to set up a charitable gift annuity to help build the Opera’s financial health.
My interest in strengthening the Company goes back to 1967, when Kurt Herbert Adler asked for help promoting opera (in other words, selling more tickets) and “San Francisco Opera Action in the Bay Area” was formed. In Marin County, I planned and arranged four previews of the Fall Season for many years. That activity ultimately was assumed by the San Francisco Opera Guild.
In 1969 I was asked to join the Board of Directors. I was one of the charter members of the Medallion Society and was an early participant in the Bel Canto Legacy Society, which was San Francisco Opera’s original foray into legacy giving. I also found satisfaction in contributing to the endowment fund, which perpetuates my continuing support of the Opera.
My husband has encouraged me to continue my involvement with the Company in an activity — sponsoring Adler Fellows — which has become the highlight of our opera experience. Being an Adler Sponsor for young talents has been inspiring and rewarding.
Many years ago, I set up a bequest to the Opera in my will. My recent decision to also create a charitable gift annuity benefiting the Opera accomplishes two purposes: to ultimately leave a sum to the Opera and, in the meantime, to give myself a return on my investment. That’s what I call win win!