Edward Zelinsky, philanthropist, history buff, museum owner

Philanthropist and real estate magnate Edward Zelinsky, a fifth-generation San Franciscan, died Sept. 23 from complications due to pancreatic cancer. He was 82.

The co-owner of Main Street Properties in Tiburon and former president of D. Zelinsky & Sons Inc., painting contractors, he was active in real estate and property management throughout the Bay Area. He was also owner of the Musee Mecanique in San Francisco, one of the largest private collections of coin-operated mechanical art in the world, now home to Laughing Sal, One of his prized possessions, Sal, the mechanical clown figure from the famed San Francisco amusement park Playland.

Zelinksy was co-founder of the Tiburon Children’s Film Festival, founder of the Museum of the City of San Francisco and active in various civic causes including the San Francisco County Fair, the San Francisco Film Festival, National Maritime Museum Association, California Historical Society and the Tiburon Peninsula Chamber of Commerce. He was a member of San Francisco’s Congregation Emanu-El.

As an ardent maritime-history enthusiast, Zelinsky received the American Ship Trust Award for distinguished service in 1995 and will be honored posthumously with the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association’s Maritime Heritage Award on Oct. 14. He served as a Trustee of the World Ship Trust of London, England.

Zelinsky is survived by his wife, Laleh S. Zelinsky; daughter Miriam Davina G. Zelinsky; sister Barbara Z. Abrams of Belvedere; two children from a previous marriage, Dale Z. Jewell of Sebastapol and Daniel Zelinsky of Mill Valley; and four grandchildren.

Donations can be sent to CPMC Foundation Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund, P.O. Box 45234, S.F., CA 94145; or the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Blvd., Box 426, Houston, TX, 77030.

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a contributing editor at J. He was a longtime staff writer at J. and retired as news editor in 2020.