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George Gund III, early Sharks co-owner, SF Film Society chair, was 75

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

George Gund III, philanthropist and longtime chair of the San Francisco Film Society Board, died Tuesday morning at his Palm Springs home. He was 75 Photo: Courtesy Gund Family, Courtesy The Gund FamilyThe colorful former co-owner of the San Jose Sharks and longtime San Francisco Film Society chairman died Tuesday at his home in Palm Springs. He was 75 and suffered from stomach cancer. As heir to a Midwestern banking family, Gund managed to combine boyhood interests that included hockey, travel and film into adult passions as both a professional sports owner and film distributor, while traveling the world.

Mark Purdy of the Mercury News has a rich remembrance of the unconventional and unpretentious Gund, who brought the Sharks to the Bay Area as an NHL expansion team in 1991. A Chronicle obit focuses on Lund’s pivotal role with the film society. An excerpt from Purdy (after the jump):

[Gund] had business interests across North America and was a distributor of Eastern European movies. He traveled in his private plane to various film festivals across the planet. He woke up in Sweden, stopped for coffee in Iceland and then ate dinner in London. He was a personal friend of actor Robert Redford, who once joked about Gund's strange lifestyle: "I think George is a spy."

He might well have been, for all I knew. Sometimes, my home phone would ring at 3 a.m. and it would be Gund, wanting to discuss something I'd written about his hockey club.

"George, I'm always happy to talk about anything in my column," I said. "But do you know what time it is here? Would you mind calling me back in five or six hours?"

"Oh, sorry," he would apologize. "I'm in Prague at a hockey tournament. Lost track of time."

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