Supporter Stories

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.

Marilyn Horne

“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.”

Ruth Short

Ruth Short

“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.”


Heidi Munzinger

Heidi Munzinger

“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.”


Chris and Gary

Chris Miller and Gary Glaser

“We don’t care how you get to the Opera, just get there!”
For 40 years, Chris Miller and Gary Glaser have been ardent supporters of San Francisco Opera as subscribers and donors. “As much as we like biking around the world and attending Cal football games, no place compares to San Francisco Opera and the highest quality art it produces for everyone, whether it’s for the main stage or Opera in the Ballpark. This is why we made a legacy gift to the Opera. We are happy to know that the Opera will use our gift where it’s needed most.”

Nina and Claude Gruen

Nina and Claude Gruen

“Watching ample women sing too long!” That’s how opera struck Nina Gruen as a child. Nina remembers attending her first operas as a little girl at the Cincinnati Zoo and how she would occasionally hear a lion’s roar during the performance (it really was a lion). But she changed her mind years later when she and her husband, Claude, saw Eugene Onegin in Vienna. This time “it was love at first sight,” and that love has only grown during their many years as subscribers, donors, and Bel Canto Legacy Society members.


Randy Laroche and David Laudon

Randy Laroche and David Laudon

For over 30 years, Randy Laroche and David Laudon have shown their commitment to San Francisco Opera through their loyal subscription to the Opera and with their generous annual contributions. Inspiring that support is their profound love for music and opera. Randy began vocalizing at the age of seven and, since 1981, sings with the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. David joined Randy in the chorus in 2016.



John Shott

John Shott

“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.”


Merle Becker Benkavitch

Merle Becker Benkavitch

“I was born and raised in Chicago and grew up with the Chicago Symphony and Lyric Opera. In August 1978, I moved to San Francisco at age 40 with a job transfer as a Federal Probation and Parole Officer. The San Francisco Opera was a prime factor in choosing to move here.”


Eric Dew

Eric Dew

“Opera is one of the few art forms that presses all my emotional buttons. With its stirring musical passages—and through its stories filled with power and anger, passion, pathos and fear, love and eroticism—no other art form can bring me to tears and joy as opera can. I want future audiences to be transfixed and excited by opera. I feel satisfied knowing that my legacy gift will help make that possible.”

Dick Davis

Dick Davis

“My longtime partner and I had always been music lovers.  So after his passing, I felt it was the right time to recast my estate plan. I was thrilled to leave the major part of my estate to San Francisco Opera. Leaving a legacy gift is a great way to support this treasured institution. A wonderful aspect of being a patron and donor to the Opera is the way they make you truly feel like family. So come join our family and make your own legacy gift to San Francisco Opera.”

Barbara Jackson

Barbara Jackson

“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.”


The Ryans

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”


The Heagys

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.”


Steve and Kevin

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.”


Buhman and Humphrey

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.”


Bernice Strube,
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.”


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”


Sally Houston

Sally Houston

As a country girl listening to the Saturday Met broadcasts, I had no idea of the riches of a live opera performance. It was only after my first visit to San Francisco Opera in 1972, I became an instant and life-long convert to this total theatre experience. If something like this has happened to you, please join me as a legacy donor to San Francisco Opera. Together, we’ll ensure that future generations can enjoy all of the glories of our favorite artistic medium.

Frederick Joseph Hirth

Frederick Joseph Hirth

The Opera gratefully acknowledges the generous legacy gift of Frederick Joseph Hirth, Bel Canto Legacy Society member and Opera supporter. Fred was a descendant of German immigrants whose grandfather founded what is known today as Schoenstein and Co., a pipe organ company that served many of the original churches in San Francisco and orchestrians for saloons on the infamous Barbary Coast. His mother was a San Francisco native with deep ties to the region.


Dan Rasdal

Dan Rasdal

Dan Rasdal was born and raised in a very small farming community in western Nebraska. During his life, he was an officer in the US Air Force, a farmer, an engineer, a CEO in Silicon Valley and, most importantly to him, a loving husband, Father to five children and Grandfather to eleven grandchildren.