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Memorial for Paul Bissinger

Memorial Image
Memorial Contribution: San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra
Memorial Contribution: Asian Art Museum of San Francisco

Paul A. Bissinger, Jr.

April 3, 1934 - September 1, 2022

Paul passed away peacefully at home at the age of 88. He was a third generation native San Franciscan born to Paul Bissinger and Marjorie Walter Bissinger. He was raised on Divisidero Street where he attended Town School. He attended high school at Phillips Exeter Academy, attended Stanford University, and earned a graduate degree from the American Institute for Foreign Trade. In the 1950s Paul served two years in the navy which took him to Japan, one of his first introductions to Asian art and culture which became a lifelong passion.

In 1959 a blind date in Manhattan led to a whirlwind romance and three months later Paul married Kathleen Bell in New York City. They settled in San Francisco where they raised a family and pursued many shared interests. They were married 63 years.

A hallmark of Paul's life was his commitment to community and volunteerism. He was active with the Big Brothers organization for many years, and served on the boards of the San Francisco Symphony, Merola Opera Program, and San Francisco Performances. His lifelong passion for music and education led him to spearhead the founding of the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra, which quickly became one of the premier youth orchestras in the country. It was a source of great pride for him.

Paul was an avid skier and outdoorsmen and enjoyed backpacking and camping. He and his wife Kathy also traveled extensively with a particular love for Japan and Southeast Asia, leading them later in life to collect Asian art and in particular contemporary Japanese ceramics, culminating in a show of ceramics at the Asian Art Museum. Paul became quite knowledgeable about their collection and greatly enjoyed sharing his passion for these artworks.

Paul lived his life with enthusiasm for his many interests and great loyalty and love for his friends, family, and the city in which he was born, raised, and made his home. He was predeceased by a son, David. He is survived by his wife Kathy, his sons Stephen (Taara Hoffman) and Matthew (Steve Fagundes), his sister Peggy and brother Tom, and his grandchildren Tessa and Hannah. The family extends their gratitude to the many caring people who looked after Paul in his later years.

A memorial was held at Temple Emanuel on October 24 at 11am. If you wish to make a gift in his honor, it should be directed to the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra or to the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.