SAN FRANCISCO (KCBS) –A memorial service was held Wednesday for San Francisco financier and philanthropist Warren Hellman, who died Sunday at the age of 77.

Mayor Ed Lee, who was expected to attend the memorial, ordered all flags at city and county buildings to be lowered to half-staff Wednesday in honor of Hellman, who is best known for founding the popular Hardly Strictly Bluegrass music festival held annually in Golden Gate Park.

KCBS’ Anna Duckworth Reports:

San Francisco Unified School District buildings were also lowering their flags Wednesday in honor of Hellman’s contributions to the city’s young people.

Among his accomplishments, Hellman founded the private equity firm Hellman and Friedman LLC, helped found the San Francisco School Alliance — an advocacy group for the city’s schools — and served as chairman of the board for The Bay Citizen, a nonprofit news organization he helped found in 2010.

”Warren liked to say that money was like manure; it was best when it was spread around to make things grow, and it only started to stink when it was piled up,” said Hellman’s cousin, author Frances Dinkelspiel. “He was a man that liked to say ‘yes’ as much as possible.”

The memorial service was scheduled for 1 p.m. at Congregation Emanu-El, located at 2 Lake St. in the city’s Presidio Heights neighborhood. The service is for friends and family, although limited space will be made available to members of the public.

A public celebration of Hellman’s life is also planned for an as-yet-undetermined date in January in Golden Gate Park.

Last Thursday, the city’s Recreation and Park Commission renamed Speedway Meadow as Hellman Hollow in honor of his contributions to the park and the city.

In lieu of flowers, Hellman’s family is asking for donations to be made to the San Francisco Free Clinic at, The Bay Citizen at, or the San Francisco School Alliance at

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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