Remembering longtime SFCM Supporter Nancy Bechtle

Nancy Hellman Bechtle

Bechtle spent decades serving as a volunteer on boards of a variety of organizations, including the Presidio Trust, the San Francisco Opera, Performing Arts Center, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

A pillar of San Francisco, Bechtle was known for her arts philanthropy and volunteer service in the community.

By Elizabeth Giudicessi 

Well-known arts patron, maven of causes, and generous supporter Nancy Hellman Bechtle died this week at age 83. Bechtle and her husband, Joachim, joined SFCM’s board in 1973. She was also honorary co-chair for SFCM’s Spring 2017 Gala and the Bechtles were regular supporters of the Conservatory. As annual giving participants in the SFCM Society, their gifts played a critical role in preparing young artists for a lifetime of success, including through scholarships, access to high-quality instruments, and faculty recruitment.

"Nancy's transformative contributions to advancing art and culture in San Francisco will be with us for generations into the future. Her endless generosity as a friend and co-conspirator made so much possible for our community. We will continue to honor her through our love and work toward making the world a more beautiful place," SFCM President David Stull said of her legacy.

In 1970, Ms. Bechtle’s parents, Ruth and Marco Hellman, helped endow SFCM’s Hellman Hall, the Conservatory’s first professional concert hall that paved the way for the subsequent growth of its campus, which is now comprised of the Ann Getty Center for Education and the Ute and William K. Bowes, Jr. Center for Performing Arts. Bay Area music critic Robert Commanday said of Hellman Hall, “With this new and enlarged facility, the program was opened up to an appropriate schedule of recitals and the Conservatory Orchestra and Opera Theatre were able to flourish.”

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, SFCM was the first board on which Ms. Bechtle served, though she would later become a member of the boards of the San Francisco Opera, San Francisco Symphony, War Memorial and Performing Arts Center, National Parks Foundation, and Presidio Trust, among others, as well as she was the first woman named to the board of directors for Sugar Bowl Ski Resort and was chair of the San Francisco committee to the U.S. Ski Team.

Recently, as a member of the UCSF Foundation board, she championed the school’s partnership with SFCM, “Music, Creativity, and Brain Science,” which presents public-facing programming that highlights scientific research at the intersection of core principles of music and music theory.

“She loved the collaboration between two educational institutions that were important to her,” said SFCM Vice President of Advancement Kathleen Nicely, noting the Bechtles’ dedication to education, the arts, and San Francisco. “I loved working with her for so many reasons.”