Remembering Baroness Léni Fé Bland

Léni. She was a special lady. She has been honored by most of the nonprofits in Santa Barbara for her philanthropy and commitment to helping those in need. We at the Lobero Theatre bestowed on her the honor of the Ghostlight Society’s Luminary of the Year for 2013. The Luminary Award recognizes individuals who have committed to maintaining and celebrating the excellence of the performing arts in our community. Certainly Léni was most deserving of the honor.

For me, it was not Léni‘s philanthropy that I will most remember; it will be the warmth of her personality and the wonderful meetings and conversations we had. She had the ability to engage and connect in a way that made you feel you were at your best. She was respectful and approached everything with a positive attitude. She always shared with me how much she loved the Lobero, which certainly helped pave the way for our discussions. And though she clearly had reason to do so, she never spent time shining her own star.

Léni had a giving and caring heart, which became personal for me when she found out my wife, Sallie, was suffering from a serious case of shingles, an illness that she too had suffered. She called a number of times in the months before her passing to check on Sallie’s condition and offer suggestions. I will miss her, but I know her spirit and grace have touched this community. Hers is a legacy that will continue to inspire.

Jim Dougherty is director of development for the Lobero Theatre Foundation.

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