Richard Coxe Spalding
December 16, 1950 - April 11, 2021
Richard Coxe Spalding, a lawyer, business executive, and longtime resident of San Francisco, died at home on April 11, 2021
Born in Greenwich, Connecticut in 1950, Mr. Spalding was the third of six children and grew up in a competitive and service-oriented family.
Known to his friends and family as Dick, he graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., and from Harvard College where he was the head of the Porcellian Club. He received his law degree from Columbia Law School where he served on The Law Review.
In 1968, on his first night in San Francisco, Dick was brought to the Presbyterian Cotillion, a ball hosted to benefit the hospital and to introduce girls into San Francisco society. There he noticed a classmate from Andover and the girl he was dancing with. True to form, Dick crossed the dance floor and cut in to dance with Helen Martin, the start of a 53-year love affair. From that day on, dancing was one of their most cherished activities.
Appreciated for his keen intellect, sense of humor, and forthright nature, Dick worked for 14 years at Brobeck, Phleger & Harrison. He co-founded the law firm's Palo Alto practice, growing the office from two to more than 100 attorneys. Dick specialized in representing venture capital firms and biotechnology companies, including IDEC Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Gen Pro, Inc., and Xoma, Inc., among others.
Between 1991 and 1996, Dick was the head of West Coast investment banking for Alex. Brown and Sons and supervised the firm's Japan office. From 1997 to 1999, he was Vice President and the first Chief Financial Officer at Portal Software and oversaw the company's rapid expansion.
Dick also served as Chief Financial Officer of Fusion Medical Technologies, Founding Partner of Thomas Weisel Healthcare Venture Partners, and Managing Director at Kearny Venture Partners, a firm he co-founded. He was on the board of Aspire Public Schools where he supported the expansion of charter schools, particularly in the Los Angeles region.
Dick's commitment to his professional careers was only matched by his dedication to his family and children. He was kind, invested and loved spending time with his children. Despite working long hours, Dick was often spotted or heard on the sidelines of Charlie's tennis matches, Patrick's basketball games and Nini's soccer games. Aside from cheering for his children on the field, he was their greatest cheerleader off of it. He wanted nothing but their happiness and was always trying to help them achieve it. His grandchildren adored their "Jobu" and the slumber parties, trips to the parks and zoo always capped off with a delicious meal at the Balboa Cafe. Above all else, he will be remembered by his grandchildren as the legend who ate ice cream for breakfast on warm Maine mornings. Beyond his own family, Dick provided counsel to many young people. Whether advising on career changes, romantic entanglements or as a mentor for San Francisco Achievers, Dick was unendingly generous with his time and wisdom.
Equally at home in California and the East Coast, Dick loved nearly all games. He was a youthful, graceful, and towering figure on the tennis court, an ardent participant at the San Francisco Golf Club and a champion backgammon player several times over at The Pacific-Union Club.
Dick also enjoyed the performing arts, both as a patron and as a participant. His love of song and dance was well-known to his family. He performed memorably as Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls at the first-ever Town School show. He sang "You Gotta Have Heart" as part of the quartet in Damn Yankees and played Mayor George Shinn in The Music Man. His most memorable performance was when he learned to sing in Italian Andrea's Bocelli's Con Te Partirò as a surprise for Helen's sixtieth birthday.
Dick was a member of The San Francisco Golf Club, The Bohemian Club, The Pacific-Union Club and The Burlingame Country Club. He was known and loved by many friends and neighbors throughout the United States – from Sun Valley to Palm Beach to Prouts Neck, Maine. They remember him fondly for his endless curiosity, his ability to be truly present and his resonant laugh.
He is survived by his wife, Helen Martin Spalding; sons, Charles and Patrick Spalding, daughter, Nini Spalding, daughters-in-law Catherine Spalding and Emilie Spalding, brother, Gerald Spalding; sisters, Elizabeth Spalding Perry and Florence Spalding; and four grandchildren, Wellsley, Richard (Oliver), Paget, and Sawyer Spalding.
As a tribute to Dick's life the family would be grateful for gifts to the Frontotemporal Dementia Fund (B1556) at UCSF's Memory and Aging Center, made payable to UCSF Foundation, PO Box 45339, San Francisco, CA 941145-0339 or Elders Consult Foundation, 1633 Bayshore Highway, Suite 245, Burlingame, CA 94010
A service in his memory will be held in the fall.
Published by San Francisco Chronicle from Apr. 13 to Apr. 18, 2021.