Arts patron, volunteer Betty Ogawa of Atherton dies at 69

Betty Jean Ogawa, an Atherton resident and volunteer whose long reach benefited many causes, died May 16 in San Francisco at the age of 69.

In addition to volunteering in her own town with the Atherton Dames and the park foundation, Ms. Ogawa was a member of the Mid-Peninsula League of the San Francisco Symphony, serving as president in 2013, and served on the board of the San Francisco Symphony Volunteer Council. She was also an active member of the Peninsula Volunteers, a nonprofit that supports senior citizens.

She served as co-chair of the Tiffany Circle for the Bay Area Red Cross, and chaired the Community Advisors of the Bechtel International Center at Stanford University, according to her family.

Ms. Ogawa studied sociology at the University of Washington, where she met her husband, Hiro Ogawa. Prior to moving to the Bay Area, the Ogawas lived in Tokyo for 20 years, where she was a cross-cultural consultant specializing in Japan/U.S. relations, culture, travel, and the arts, her family said.

Back in this country, Ms. Ogawa served on the board of the Japan Society of Northern California. In 2011, she and her husband were honored as "distinguished volunteer fundraisers" by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Silicon Valley, for the $1 million-plus they raised for Japanese earthquake and tsunami relief efforts, her family said.

The Ogawas also have been major donors to the Gladstone Institute, the International Society for Stem Cell Research, and the San Francisco Opera.

Her spirit of volunteerism was felt in her own community, according to friends. Atherton resident Denise Kupperman, a longtime active member of the Atherton Dames said: "Betty was one of the most gracious, diplomatic and intelligent women I have had the honor and pleasure of knowing. (She) encouraged me about 12 years ago to become involved with the Dames and Holbrook-Palmer Park. I learned much from her -- she was a true mentor."

Nancy Greenbach of Atherton, who worked with Ms. Ogawa on a number of volunteer efforts over the years, also noted the contributions her friend made close to home and on a larger stage. "Betty was a generous philanthropist, kind in spirit and giving," she said. "She made a significant impact in her leadership role in her many organizations."

Ms. Ogawa is survived by her husband of 46 years, Hiro Ogawa; two sons, Andrew Satoru Ogawa and Marcus Takeshi Ogawa; her mother, Maybelle Slumpff; a sister, Suzanne Schmick; and three grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her father, Warren B. Crouch.

The family prefers that memorial donations be made to the donor's favorite charity. A celebration of her life will be announced at a future date, her family said.


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