The Commonwealth Blog

Remembering L. Jay Tenenbaum

Jan 18, 2011 @ 4:17 PM
The Commonwealth Club of California lost a treasured member of its Board of Governors January 16 when L. Jay Tenenbaum passed away in Woodside, California. He was 87.

A retired investment banker, Tenenbaum contributed greatly to the Club, chairing or serving on its development (fundraising) committee and its annual dinner committee. He was generous with his time and effort and, in the words of one Club executive, was a "gung-ho fundraiser" ready to call potential supporters of the Club and bring new people into the fold.

Tenenbaum joined the trading and arbitrage business of investment firm Goldman Sachs & Co. in 1953, and he was made a partner in 1958. He remained head of trading & arbitrage until 1976 and became a limited partner in San Francisco.

Writing on Forbes.com, Robert Lenzner noted the loss of Tenenbaum, his former boss at Goldman Sachs in the 1960s. "Tenenbaum was an assiduous master to his apprentice, and I honor his crucial role in my development here in this writing," wrote Lenzner. "He chose to retire early and to become a pillar of San Francisco activities like the San Francisco ballet and his beloved Commonwealth Club, where he played a key role."

He made his presence felt throughout San Francisco. A former vice chairman of the San Francisco Ballet, Tenenbaum served on its board for 28 years. He also served on the boards of KQED and the Stern Grove Festival Board. He was San Francisco's deputy chief of protocol from 1992 to 1996. And for the past 12 years, he served on the Commonwealth Club's Board of Governors.

Tenenbaum majored in mechanical engineering at Vanderbilt University. He was a 1st lieutenant in the 10th Mountain Division during World War II and held the Silver Star, the Bronze Star, and 2 Purple Hearts. Serving in Italy, he earned one of his purple hearts when he was shot in the same engagement that saw the wounding of future Senator Bob Dole, who served in a neighboring regiment.

An avid tennis player, he had a clay court at his house where he liked to invite friends to play. His love for the game extended to his support for Youth Tennis Advantage, a group that taught inner city children to increase their skills and self-confidence through playing tennis.

We are sad for the loss of this local treasure, but we're heartened by the knowledge of all of the things he did for The Commonwealth Club and the people of the Bay Area.