Driving further into the SF Chronicle editorial “Don’t Jump the Gun on JFK.”

Lee Heidhues 9.20.2021

Dede Wilsey and Thomas Campbell de Young Museum CEO along with assorted San Francisco Swells and benefactors have signed off on the pending transformation to a more environmentally, car free friendly City.

40 Dede Wilsey and Thomas Campbell 9.20.2021
Former Board President Dede Wilsey and de Young CEO Thomas Campbell

JFK Drive which sits astride the de Young Museum and the The Great Walkway (formerly Highway) at the nearby Pacific Ocean are the recipients of San Francisco aristocracy’s political and environmental largesse.

The de Young Museum and The San Francisco Chronicle are inextricably tied. (see following Wikipedia article).

41 de Young Museum 9.20.2021.jpg
de Young Museum near JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park

While the Thieriot family no longer owns the Chronicle its ties run deep with the de Young Museum. The family, business, political and cultural relationship makes the Chronicle endorsement of a permanently car free JFK Drive, and by extension a permanently car free Great Walkway, more noteworthy. Link to editorial follows.


A clean car free environment is munificence the wealthy socially conscious like to bestow upon The People. It makes them appear magnanimous and costs nothing.

In return they receive something money can never buy. Good will.

Blog contributor Liz is a long time member of the FAMSF. We approve wholeheartedly.

The following is excerpted from a Wikipedia article on M.H. de Young.

In San Francisco, de Young and his brother, Charles de Young (1846–1880), founded the Daily Dramatic Chronicle newspaper, first published on January 17, 1865, with the loan of a twenty dollar gold piece which Michael received from his landlord. A third brother, Gustavus, whose initial originally appeared in the masthead (“G. and C. de Young”), later vanished.[2] The Daily Dramatic Chronicle was a four-page tabloid that was freely distributed throughout San Francisco. According to the de Youngs, the Daily Dramatic Chronicle would be “the best advertising medium on the Pacific Coast.” On September 1, 1868, the de Youngs expanded their tabloid into a daily newspaper. The first issue stated that the Chronicle would be “independent in all things, neutral in none.” The Daily Dramatic Chronicle was sold under the condition that it be renamed the Dramatic Review. De Young was also the director of the Associated Press for many years.[8]

42 M.H. de Young.jpg
M.H. de Young

Public Leadership[edit]

De Young, inspired by the events of the Chicago World’s fair, led a campaign to bring a world’s fair to San Francisco. De Young then became the Director-General of the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894. During a visit to New York City, De Young was inspired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s location in Central Park.[9] As a result, de Young wanted the fair to be held in Golden Gate Park. However, John McLaren, the Superintendent of Golden Gate Park, was concerned about how the removal of many trees would affect the environment of the park. In an intense debate, de Young asked McLaren, “What is a tree? “What are a thousand trees compared to the benefits of the exposition?” Significantly, de Young owned about 31 blocks south of the park and could have been motivated by the fair’s potential positive impacts on his real estate holdings. While the vast majority of the fair’s buildings were soon destroyed, de Young persuaded the city to save the Fine Arts Building. The building was renamed the M.H. de Young Memorial Museum after de Young’s death. De Young supported the museum throughout his life and bequeathed $150,000 to the museum upon his death.[10]

Personal life[edit]

De Young and his wife Katherine had five children:

  • Charles de Young (1881–1913)
  • Helen de Young (1883–1969), who married George T. Cameron (1873–1955)[11]
  • Constance Marie de Young (1885–1968), who married Joseph Oliver Tobin (1878–1978)[12]
  • Kathleen Yvonne de Young (1888–1954), who married Ferdinand Thieriot (1883–1920)[13]
  • Phyllis D. de Young (1892–1988), who married Nion Robert Tucker (1885–1950)[14]

In 1884, De Young was shot by an irate businessman, Adolph B. Spreckels, apparently due to a negative newspaper article, and survived the injury. De Young died on February 15, 1925; a Roman Catholic mass was held in St. Mary’s Cathedral[15] (he had converted to Catholicism after marrying his wife, Katherine I. Deane).[16]


3 Car free JFK 3.20.2021
The People rally for a Car Free JFK Drive in Golden Gate Park – March 2021

The M. H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, is named in his honor. According to his daughter, Helen de Young Cameron, de Young “loved objects. He was an incurable collector. He collected everything. He stored his collections at the Memorial Museum, where he would visit them at all hours. He took genuine delight in sharing them with the citizens of San Francisco, insisting that his museum never charge admission.”[2] De Young purchased many things of “curious and artistic and instructive value” for the museum.[17]


In 1956, one of De Young’s grandsons, Ferdinand Melly Thieriot (1921–1956), the circulation director of The Chronicle, and his wife Frances (1921–1956), were among the 46 killed aboard the SS Andrea Doria when it was struck by the MS Stockholm off the coast of Nantucket.[18]

De Young was the grandfather of Nan Tucker McEvoy (1919–2015), chair of Chronicle Publishing Company’s board of directors until the 1990s.[19] He is also the great-great-grandfather of actor Max Thieriot (born 1988).[20]