Santa Clara Magazine is published in print for alumni and friends of the University. It is updated weekly on the web.
Francis “Frank” Michael Heffernan Jr. ’52 loved his friends, faith, and school, his SF Giants, Irish heritage, and cocktail hour—and most importantly and unconditionally, his family. Born in 1930 to Frank and Florence Heffernan, Frank was the youngest of five. Betty, Joan, Florence and Mary, his four sisters (whom he adored) preceded him in death. Born during the Depression and raised during World War II, Frank was fond of telling stories about San Francisco during that time. At 9 years old he was struck by polio, which became a defining moment in his life. Following a year in the hospital, he regained his ability to walk by swimming at the Olympic Club, which became a lifelong passion. (Earlier this year, the Olympic Club recognized Frank as one of its longest active members; he was also a former vice president of the club.) Frank grew up in the West Portal district of San Francisco, graduated from St. Cecilia’s grammar school and St. Ignatius High School, then followed in his father’s footsteps to Santa Clara University, where he swam and played water polo. Frank’s lifelong commitment and dedication to the school included coaching the water polo team in the 1950s—and more recently serving as a regent. Carrying on the family tradition, Frank’s children are also Santa Clara graduates. There was no prouder moment than when the fourth Francis Michael Heffernan ’16 graduated last year. After a brief stint at Stanford law school, Frank began his 50-year career in the insurance industry: first with SF-based Cosgrove/Marsh Mc Clennan before starting his own insurance company, Heffernan, Keiler and Doble, in 1963. In 1985, he sold his company to the Chicago-based Arthur J. Gallagher, ran its West Coast operation, and served on the board of directors before retiring in 2001. In 1952, he met Lenore Bertagna, who later became his wife, but it took another six years before they headed down the aisle at St. Vincent de Paul in 1958. Frank and Lenore moved to Greenbrae, California, in 1960, where they raised their family and became active members of the community. Frank’s lifelong devotion to the Catholic Church took on many roles: He was a parishioner at St. Cecilia’s in San Francisco and St. Sebastian’s and St. Anselm’s in Marin; a board member of the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose and deeply involved with their school, Immaculate Conception Academy, and their work with the Cristo Rey program; and finally as a Knight of Malta, where he proudly participated in the establishment of a free medical clinic in Oakland. Frank also served as president of the Serra Club and sat on finance committees of several dioceses and archdiocese in Northern California. One of his proudest roles with the Catholic Church was his involvement with St. Mary’s Cathedral, where he served as president of its first board of regents. In addition to spending time with family, attending Giants games, and entertaining friends at their Ross home and ranch in Calistoga, Frank and Lenore loved traveling the world, visiting over 100 countries and collecting art, friends, and memories along the way! Surrounded by his wife, children, grandchildren, and friends, Frank died in the comfort of his Ross home on Tuesday morning after a short illness. He was 86 years old. He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Lenore; his sons and their spouses, F. “Mike” Heffernan ’80 and Kristen, John and Margie, and his daughter Ann Marie Heffernan ’84 and spouse Scott. Frank has nine loving grandchildren: Braeda, Michael, Olivia, Sofia, Boots, Isabella, Chase, Alexandra, and Samantha.