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Rene di Rosa, founder of Di Rosa, a public museum and sculpture park, died at home at the age 91 on the evening of October 3, 2010. His legacy of support for artists in Northern California is carried on through his extensive art collection and 217 acre estate in the Carneros region of the Napa Valley. A legendary philanthropist, art collector, and vineyardist, Rene di Rosa was born May 14, 1919 in Boston. He graduated from Yale University where he served as editor of the Yale Daily News. After serving in the US Navy, Rene moved to Paris where he hoped to write the “great American novel.” The book failed to materialize, but life on the Left Bank sparked his lifelong admiration for artists, and he purchased his first painting before returning to America and settling in San Francisco, where he took a job as general assignment reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle.

During the late 1950’s, Rene took a lively interest in the North Beach art community associated with “the Beats” in San Francisco, the beginning of five decades of acquiring what is now considered the most significant holding of Bay Area art in the world. During his life he served on the board of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the National Advisory Board of the Whitney Museum of American Art, and was the recipient of many honors and awards for his patronage, including an Honorary Doctorate from the San Francisco Art Institute.

Friends and supporters are invited to bring messages and additions to an “ofrenda” altar installation by Diane Dame Shepp in the Di Rosa’s Gatehouse Gallery open during gallery hours (Wednesday through Friday 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.) through November 2.

- Meredith Tromble [Thursday, October 7th, 2010]

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