Tribute To SF Philanthropist Helen Diller

Diller Teen Fellows Facebook

SAN FRANCISCO—San Francisco Philanthropist Helen Diller, 85, died on January 7. Diller’s supporters including San Francisco Mayor Edward M. Lee are paying their respects to her.

Diller was undergraduate at the University of California, Berkeley. This is same place where she met her husband Sanford. Helen is a community leader and a philanthropist. She also served on the American Friends of Hebrew University as Northwest President. Diller also got rewards in Jewish community including the Scopus Award form Hebrew University and Verizon award from the San Francisco- based Jewish Community Federation.

Diller and her husband created the Helen Diller Family Foundation of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund. The foundation has supported a number of programs and institutions in the Bay Area and throughout the world. The Helen Diller Family Foundation created and supports the Diller Teen Fellow Program. The program is a national program to promote Jewish teen leadership through community service, ethics, and identity-building. In 2003, the foundation donated a $35 million grant to support the new cancer research building on the USCF Mission Bay campus.

The USSF Comprehensive Cancer Center renamed their cancer programs and resources in honor of Helen Diller and her family in 2007 named the “Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center.” The UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center is combines basic science, clinical research, epidemiology/cancer control and patient care throughout the University of California of San Francisco.

She also created a new artistic and imaginative playground for the children and families in San Francisco. The two parks include Helen Diller Playground at Dolores Park and Helen Diller Play Area at Julius Kahn Park. The Helen Diller Play Area is the third in the series and it’s in the planning phase. On Wednesday, January 7, a discussion at the San Francisco Library occurred to discuss the renovation of the playgrounds.

Helen made philanthropy her life’s work. She was known to say, “It’s never too early, too late, or too often to make a world a better place.”

“I am profoundly saddened by the passing of Helen Diller; one of our great civic leaders,” said San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee. “Helen gave so much of her heart and soul to our City. Her support and generosity to programs and institutions not just in the Bay Area, but around the world, touched many lives. Helen serves as a model for how great civic leaders can impact the lives of people both near and far. Her concern with the health and quality of life of our residents, our youth and our communities is unmatched and because of her passionate commitment to the wellbeing for people everywhere, Helen’s legacy will live on for generations to come.”

Donald M. Zimring, Ph. D. and Head of School of the Bradeis Hillel Day Schools of San Francisco and Marin, paid tribute to Diller as well. He said, “Her memory will be more than a blessing – it will continue to serve as an inspiration to us all. Her efforts in support of Tikun Olam will live on for generations.”

Marissa Chotiner tweeted, “Thanks Helen Diller for all laughter, tears, and helping me become such much of who I am today – RIP HD.”

Ellen Pulda, a Massachusetts mother whose daughter is in JCC Boston Diller Teen Fellows, said on Facebook “My condolences to the Diller Family. We are so grateful for Mrs. Diller’s vision and passion that created and sustained this program. Our daughter’s participation in the JCC Boston Diller Teen Fellows made a huge impact on her life as well as our entire family as she learned about her Jewish identity and what it means to be a member, and a leader, in our global Jewish community. May Helen Diller’s memory be a blessing.”

Elly Silberstein, participate of the Diller Teen Fellows program tweeted, “RIP Helen Diller. I wish I could adequately express in words how much you and the Diller Teen Fellows have given me.”

“I have very fond memories of spending time, as a teenager, in the 1970’s, at the Diller household. Remember Nancy, the Diller Family pet goat. It makes me smile. Helen was a devoted and loving mom, an intelligent and generous philanthropist. My most sincere condolences to her husband and her son Ron and the rest of the Diller Family,” said Ellen Battery Grifith of Orinda, California.

She is survived by her husband Sanford and in her loving children, Brad Diller, Ron Diller, Jackie Safier, and her beloved grandchildren: Ben, Danielle, Joseph, Roy, and Yoni Diller and Joshua and Lauren Safier.

A private family funeral and family shivas were already held. On Sunday, February 22, a public memorial service will be held for anyone who would like to pay respects to Helen Diller. The memorial service will be at Congregation Emanu-EL on 2 Lake Street in San Francisco at 3:00 p.m. Anyone needing additional information is asked  to call Sanai Memorial Chapal at (415) 921-3636 or email in**@si*********.org.