J. Richard Cronin: A quiet life, well-lived, has a major impact
Richard Cronin once slipped a struggling actress some cash encouragement.
According to his long-time friend and San Francisco Kaiser Hospital co-worker, Ernst Ratzka, the late J.Richard Cronin once slipped some cash encouragement to a struggling, unknown singer/actress who had been seated next to him at an early New York performance of the Sound of Music. 

"Her name was Barbra Streisand," Ratzka said. "He told Ms. Streisand he was confident that she would succeed."  Ratzka quickly added that Cronin was not prone to tall tales; on the contrary, he was famous for his reticence.

J. Richard Cronin continued his generous ways through his estate, with gifts to multiple good causes, including the San Francisco Parks Alliance. According to Ratzka, Cronin loved music, musicals and a variety of musical institutions including the San Francisco Symphony, Pocket Opera of San Francisco, and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, all of which he remembered in his will along with the Parks Alliance.  

Cronin, who died on November 19, 2012, had worked as an x-ray technologist at Kaiser, eight years with Ratzka. "I really liked him," Ratzka said.  "He was an intelligent, gentle and generous guy."    

Cronin, who served in the US Army in the early 1960s, visited Ratzka after their Kaiser years, driving to Turlock where Ratzka managed a retirement home and ran an almond ranch.  "He was reclusive by nature, but conversed easily about music, literature, and politics.  We spent hours discussing these things."

Retired Kaiser x-ray supervisor Helga Youssefi of Half Moon Bay remembered Cronin as a diligent, highly skilled worker who "was very kind and very good at what he did."

"He was a very lovely man," she said.  "But he didn't talk much. He did not want to be secretive.  He just was not a person who did chit-chat.  Taking care of his mother was his biggest job.  He was devoted to her."  She added that he played the piano beautifully.  "Classical music was his life. That might have accounted for his aversion to overtime. People liked him very much. He was a dear."

About Cronin's $27,207 bequest to the Parks Alliance, Mr. Ratzka said, "He loved San Francisco."

The San Francisco Parks Alliance is honored to list J.Richard Cronin as a member of the Parks Alliance Legacy Circle.  For more information on planned giving, visit our web site or contact Stephanie Linder at 415.621.3260 extension 108 or stephanie@sfparksalliance.org.


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