San Francisco Ballet lost a wonderful friend and supporter with the passing of Jeannik Méquet Littlefield on May 24. “Mrs. Littlefield’s generosity was instrumental in the artistic growth and vitality of San Francisco Ballet” said John S. Osterweis, Chair of San Francisco Ballet’s Board of Trustees. “We are deeply appreciative of her longstanding commitment to San Francisco Ballet.”
“I am very grateful for Jeannik’s support of the Ballet. She funded a number of new productions by a wide range of choreographers, most recently Christopher Wheeldon’s Cinderella. On a personal note, I greatly appreciated her decision to sponsor my new production of Swan Lake in 2009. Given her generosity to the arts in the Bay Area, it is only fitting that San Francisco Ballet will dedicate our performance on July 28 at the Stern Grove Festival to her memory,” said Artistic Director & Principal Choreographer Helgi Tomasson.
Mrs. Littlefield was born in Paris and attended the International School in Geneva, Switzerland, where her father worked as a translator for the League of Nations. She attended the Sorbonne before completing her education in the United States, earning an undergraduate degree from Wells College in New York and a graduate degree from Mills College. Fluent in French, German, Russian and English, she began studying for a Ph.D. in Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley.
In 1943, she joined the war effort as a translator and moved to Washington, D.C., to work for the French Air Mission. There she met Edmund Wattis Littlefield. The two married the following year. Mr. Littlefield went on to head the Utah Construction Co. (later Utah International Inc.), the family firm that had helped build the Hoover Dam. In 1976, in the largest commercial merger at that time, the company was acquired by General Electric.
Mrs. Littlefield’s philanthropy supported a wide range of causes including the San Francisco Opera, the San Francisco Symphony, Mills College, Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Wells College, St. Francis Hospital, the San Francisco Food Bank, and the California Academy of Sciences, to name just a few. In 2005, she was named a Great Benefactor of SF Ballet and the SF Ballet School for her lifetime contributions to the organization.
Mrs. Littlefield understood the importance of building the Company’s repertory with new productions and new works and how they help SF Ballet engage new audiences and attract the finest artists to the Company. Her gifts for new productions were instrumental in the creation of Mark Morris’ Sylvia, Helgi Tomasson’s Swan Lake, and Cinderella by Christopher Wheeldon.
A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, July 31st, at 11am at St. Dominic Church, 2390 Bush Street, San Francisco.
Jeannik Méquet Littlefield was a beloved philanthropist who left a remarkable legacy, locally and beyond. She will be greatly missed.