Remembering Senator Diane Feinstein and our chance encounter many years ago

by Danna Breen on September 29, 2023

In 1978 I had been climbing in Khumbu near Everest for six weeks. I was near the Everest View Hotel, the highest hotel in the world, and was hankering for a beer which I hadn’t had in months, so I slowly schlepped up the rocky hillsides to the hotel.

Filthy, grubby, not having bathed other than sticking my head into a rare glacial lake, I was intrigued to see a woman in a powder blue snow suit. She asked me where I was from, and I answered San Francisco. She pushed her hand out and said, “I’m Dianne Feinstein.” I said “Wow!”

We had a blast talking. Her then partner and future husband Richard Blum did a lot of philanthropic work in the Himalayas. She was the lead San Francisco supervisor at the time, so we talked a lot about our glorious city. We agreed to hang out when I returned from my travels.

When I came out of the Himalayas maybe a month later, I saw that she was now mayor of S.F. because of the murder of George Moscone and Harvey Milk. When I came back to S.F., I suggested that we hang out to talk about our trips, but she declined, saying she was too busy. I would see her at a shared love — tiny Tommaso’s Ristorante in North Beach — and she was always joyful to see me.

Once she became a Senator I would contact her office regarding legislation I was troubled by. She always acknowledged me.

I’ve been concerned about her over the past years and did hope she would step down. What a legacy. She was awesome.

Dianne Feinstein, elected to finish out the term of the late San Francisco Mayor George R. Moscone, addresses the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco Monday, Dec. 5, 1978. (AP Photo/Sal Veder)

Author Danna Breen is long time resident of Portola Valley

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