In Memoriam

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Francis Michael Heffernan, Jr. (Frank) '48
Posted 08/12/2017 08:34AM


Surrounded by his wife, children, grandchildren and friends, San Francisco native and longtime Marin County resident –Francis Michael Heffernan, Jr. (Frank) died in the comfort of his Ross home on Tuesday morning after a short illness. He was 86 years old.

Frank loved his family, his friends, his faith, his school, his SF Giants , his Irish heritage and his cocktail hour -- but, most importantly and unconditionally, his family.

Born in 1930, to Frank and Florence Heffernan, Frank was the youngest of five. His four sisters, who he adored, Betty, Joan, Florence and Mary preceded him in death. Born during the depression and growing up during World War II, Frank was fond of telling stories about San Francisco during that time. At nine year's old he was struck by polio, which became a defining moment in his life. Following a year in hospital, he regained his ability to walk by swimming at the Olympic Club which became a lifelong passion. Earlier this year, Frank, who was a former Vice President of the Olympic Club, was recognized by the Club as one of its longest active members.

Frank grew up in the West Portal district of San Francisco, graduated from St. Cecilia's grammar school and St. Ignatius High School, then followed in his father's footsteps to Santa Clara University where he swam and played water polo. Frank's lifelong commitment and dedication to the school included coaching the water polo team in the 1950s and more recently serving as a regent. Carrying on the family tradition, Frank's children are also Santa Clara graduates. There was no prouder moment than when the fourth Francis Michael Heffernan graduated from Santa Clara University last year.

After a brief stint at Stanford law school, Frank began his 50 year career in the insurance industry. First with SF-based Cosgrove/Marsh Mc Clennan and then starting his own Insurance company, Heffernan, Keiler and Doble in 1963. In 1985, he sold his company to the Chicago-based Arthur J. Gallagher, ran its west coast operation and served on the board of directors before retiring in 2001.

In 1952, he met Lenore Bertagna, who later became his wife, but it took another six years before they headed down the aisle at St. Vincent de Paul in 1958. Frank and Lenore moved to Greenbrae in 1960, where they raised their family and became active members of the community.

Frank's lifelong devotion to the Catholic church took on many roles: he was a parishioner at St. Cecilia's in San Francisco and St. Sebastian's and St. Anselm's in Marin; a board member of the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose--deeply involved with their school, Immaculate Conception Academy, and their work with the Cristo Rey program; and finally as a Knight of Malta where he proudly participated in the establishment of a free medical clinic in Oakland. Frank also served as President of the Serra Club and sat on finance committees of several dioceses and archdiocese in Northern California. One of his proudest roles with the Catholic church was his involvement with St. Mary's Cathedral where he served as President of its first Board of Regents.

In addition to spending time with family, attending Giants games and entertaining friends at their Ross home and ranch in Calistoga, Frank and Lenore loved traveling the world, visiting over 100 countries, collecting art, friends and memories along the way!

He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Lenore; his sons and their spouses Michael and Kristen, John and Margie and his daughter Ann Marie and spouse Scott. Frank has nine loving grandchildren: Braeda, Michael, Olivia, Sofia, Boots, Isabella, Chase, Alexandra and Samantha.

A funeral mass will be held at St. Anselm's in Ross at 11:00 AM on Friday, August 25th, followed by a reception at the Marin Art and Garden Center in Ross. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Immaculate Conception Academy or St. Mary's Cathedral.

Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Aug. 13 to Aug. 20, 2017

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