The grandson of San Francisco’s renowned philanthropists Richard and Rhoda Goldman died Thursday and his two children and a woman believed to be their nanny were seriously injured when their single-engine Cirrus SR22 plane crashed south of Sonoma soon after takeoff.
William “Bill” S. Goldman, 38, a University of San Francisco assistant professor of international studies, was pronounced dead at the scene.
The woman, Valeria Anselmi of Milan, Italy, and his two grade school age children, George and Marie, were hospitalized.
His wife, Serra Falk Goldman, a San Francisco attorney, could not be reached Thursday. A woman answering the phone at Falk, Cornell & Associates law firm declined comment.
The plane took off from Sonoma Skypark airport around 12:45 p.m., according to the Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office, and went down about two minutes later, crashing in a nearby field.
The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.
Assistant Schell-Vista Fire Chief Mike Mulas said a half-dozen civilians arrived at the crash site before emergency personnel and pulled the children from the wreckage.
“All three of the injuries were severe to critical,” Mulas said, adding that emergency medics tried to shield the survivors from Goldman, moving them away from the wreckage.
“It was just a tragic situation, tragic thing,” he said.
The children were taken to Children’s Hospital Oakland by helicopter, one by REACH at 1:45 p.m. and the other by Sheriff’s Office helicopter Henry 1 at 2:07 p.m., according to a Redcom dispatcher. Anselmi was taken by ambulance to Queen of the Valley Hospital at 1:20 p.m.
Neither hospital was able to provide status updates on their conditions.
The Goldman name is attached to several prestigious philanthropic efforts. Best known is the Goldman Environmental Prize, begun by Bill Goldman’s grandparents, Richard N. and Rhoda H. Goldman. It honors grassroots environmental individuals from around the world for significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment. Each winner receives an award of $150,000 — the largest award in the world for grassroots environmentalists — and is often referred to as the “Green Nobel.”
The eponymous foundation gave $700 million to more than 2,500 grantees in its 60 years of existence. The fund closed in 2012.
Numerous other foundations related to the family exist, including the Richard W. Goldman Family Foundation that Bill Goldman and his brother and sister founded in 2012 in memory of their father.
Bill Goldman also served on the board of directors for the New Israel Fund, a nonprofit based in New York City, that supports civil rights and democracy in Israel, and the Walter and Elise Haas Fund in San Francisco that’s dedicated to economic security, education, Jewish life and the arts in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Bill Goldman was also a descendant of Levi Strauss, who in 1873 patented denim blue jeans.
He was born and raised in Washington, D.C, the son of Richard Goldman and Susan Sachs Goldman. He attended the Sidwell Friends School, received his undergraduate degree at Yale University, and both his master’s and doctoral degrees from UC Berkeley. He had taught at USF since 2012.
University President Paul Fitzgerald released a statement late Thursday about Goldman, saying the USF community was “devastated,” calling him “an accomplished scholar, a beloved and generous teacher, and a valued member of our community.”