The Foundation was saddened to learn of the passing of Nancy Bechtle, a longtime champion of the city’s public hospital, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center.  

A consummate supporter of the arts and a pillar of the philanthropic community here in San Francisco, Nancy found new ways to raise funds for vital programming in her hometown. In 2002, Nancy was asked by friend Ellen Magnin Newman to join her in designing what would become the Hearts in San Francisco project. 

Over the next two years, Nancy and Ellen recruited 131 artists to design large heart sculptures that would decorate the city center, bringing color and life to San Francisco. Raising $3 million in its first year, Nancy’s legacy lives on as the Hearts in San Francisco Project enters its 18th year, garnering an impressive $6 million in support for the compassionate and innovative programs at ZSFG through the auction of over 480 heart sculptures. 

A fifth-generation San Franciscan, Nancy’s family’s long history with the City by the Bay made this project even more special to her. And with the help of Tony Bennett himself, Nancy and Ellen together created a lasting impact on the landscape of San Francisco. 


The Foundation has been so grateful to partner with Nancy and her husband Joachim over the years, shaping the “Heart of the City” campaign that would ensure the construction of a state-of-the-art acute care and trauma center for all of San Francisco, as well as her continued guidance as an Advisory Board Member and past chair of the Hearts in SF event.

Her passion for San Francisco and the institutions that make it great will leave a lasting legacy. And the Foundation will do our part to ensure ZSFG remains at the Heart of this City. 

No one can say it better than Nancy herself. 

“I love raising money for something I really believe in. I hope Hearts in San Francisco will continue forever, inspire people to take it to even great heights, heights Ellen and I could never even imagine.”