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* Richard E. LeBlond Jr.; Led San Francisco Ballet

Obituaries

December 07, 2000

Richard E. LeBlond Jr., 76, former president of the San Francisco Ballet who led the company to international acclaim. LeBlond headed the San Francisco Ballet from 1975 to 1987, and helped save the company from bankruptcy. A former sociology professor whose career in arts administration included leadership of the Pennsylvania Ballet in the early 1970s, LeBlond arrived in San Francisco when that town's ballet company was struggling to erase $850,000 in debt. He embarked on a major reorganization, recruited an activist board of trustees and spearheaded a $13-million campaign to finance the San Francisco Ballet Assn. building, the first major facility of its kind built for an American company. He resigned in 1986, about a year after the firing of the company's popular artistic director, Michael Smuin, caused controversy in dance circles. LeBlond, who was a Cincinnati native, held a doctorate in sociology from the University of Michigan and taught at Temple University in Philadelphia and Rider University in New Jersey before taking the helm of the Pennsylvania Ballet in 1973. He also was active in arts groups and was a founder of the California Confederacy for the Arts. He was diagnosed with AIDS in 1990 and founded an AIDS outreach ministry at his parish, St. Philip the Apostle, in Sonoma County. On Nov. 28 of transitional cell carcinoma at his farm in Sebastopol.

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