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Léni Fé Bland, Santa Barbara Arts Patron and Philanthropist, Dead at Age 99

Léni Fé Bland, a patron of the arts who was one of Santa Barbara’s best known and most prolific philanthropists, died Sunday evening at the age of 99.

Léni Fé Bland, at an October fundraiser for the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, was passionate about music and philanthropy. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk file photo)
Léni Fé Bland, at an October fundraiser for the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission, was passionate about music and philanthropy. (Rochelle Rose / Noozhawk file photo)

Fé Bland, a petite, silver-haired woman whose passions were music and philanthropy, was at home with family when she passed away at about 6 p.m., according to a close friend who spoke with Noozhawk.

A native of England, Fé Bland was one of Santa Barbara’s most dedicated philanthropists, giving millions of dollars to a variety of causes, especially those involving music and the arts.

Fé Bland grew up in a family in which music was highly valued, and that background guided her through most of her life.

“A classically trained vocal artist, she was once invited to perform for a group of blind people,” according to her biography on the Santa Barbara Foundation’s website. “Her performance was enthusiastically received, and thus was born a passion for helping others through music.”

Fé Bland, who would have turned 100 on Jan. 10, eventually established her own foundation, which over the past 14 years provided financial support for more than 1,000 students.

Last year, wishing to cut back on the administration of her scholarships and allow more time for the personal connection with the students, Fé Bland established the Léni Fé Bland Fund.

“We lost a great lady today,” Ron Gallo, president and CEO of the Santa Barbara Foundation, told Noozhawk. “​Léni Fé​ Bland was not only a generous patron of the arts, but also a kind, beautiful soul who loved nothing more than supporting and encouraging the next generation of talented and aspiring musicians. She was deservedly admired and loved by so many.

“​Léni will be terribly missed, but her legacy will keep her in our hearts forever.”

In October, Fé Bland was on hand for the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission’s annual Viva La Bayou benefit at which the mission’s​ Léni Fé Bland Award was bestowed on fellow nonagenarian and philanthropist Betty Rosness. Rosness died Nov. 16 at age 90.

Funeral arrangements were pending late Sunday.

Noozhawk executive editor Tom Bolton can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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