San Francisco recently lost two prominent residents, real estate developer Walter Shorenstein and Isabelle Farrow. Both were dedicated fundraisers and supporters of the city. (We are well aware that some of you might have criticisms of either of these folks, but let’s hold that for another day, please.)
Walter Shorenstein was San Francisco’s pre-eminent real estate developer. He began from humble roots, arriving in San Francisco upon discharge from the Air Force in 1946; he was a major at Travis Air Force Base not that far off, in Fairfield. In his own words, he came with “no job, a pregnant wife and less than $1,000 to my name”, which all changed when he became a partner of Milton Meyer Co., whose firm he bought in 1960. His first high-rise built was an 18-story behemoth on 111 Pine St.
A dedicated supporter of the Democratic Party and prominent donor to many universities, including local ones like Stanford and Cal, Shorenstein also supported organizations, such as the United Way, Catholic Youth Organization, Jewish Community Federation, and the Red Cross. That philanthropy is something Walter Shorenstein shares with Isabelle Farrow, who died on June 19.
Lovingly referred to as “The Queen of Nob Hill”, Isabelle Farrow was a philanthropist and socialite. Her primary cause was St. Francis Hospital, which she started at as a volunteer, visiting patients as a “pink lady”. Farrow then helped establish the annual black-tie benefit “Hob Nob on the Hill”. Inspired by its success, she created the local Ambassador’s Ball, which benefits cystic fibrosis. She also founded the “This Old Bag” Breast Cancer Emergency Fund.
Farrow chaired many events for Girls Town of Italy, Meals on Wheels, the Children’s Garden of California, the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department Women’s Reentry and Restorative Justice Center and many more.