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Donor Spotlight:
Elizabeth Caspers Peters

“Mom had so much curiosity! She loved art, literature, music, sports, business—she was interested in everything.” It’s a well-known fact of family life that siblings don’t always see eye-to-eye, but Margaret Charnas, Alec Peters, and Lisa Peters are unanimous in their loving admiration of their late mother, Elizabeth “Betty” Caspers Peters. Thanks to Betty’s generous planned gift to the San Francisco Symphony, her three children recently joined together to choose an endowed chair at the San Francisco Symphony to be named in her honor. The Elizabeth C. Peters Cello Chair, currently held by Carolyn McIntosh, is a testament to Betty’s love of the arts, her generosity, and her commitment to living her values throughout her long and eventful life.

A lifelong Californian, Betty Caspers was born in Pasadena, CA and enrolled at Stanford University at age 16. She took a job at an advertising agency, where she met Evan Peters, her beloved husband of 34 years.  Betty was a loving wife and mother, an accomplished businesswoman, and a champion of the arts and education. In 1959—a time when women in America could not hold credit cards in their own names—Betty, at 33 years old, became a director on the corporate board of her family’s financial company. Her business acumen encouraged a lifelong commitment to philanthropy, a legacy that lives on today and into the future. 

Betty was known for her love of knowledge and learning. “Right up to the end, Mom’s coffee table was always covered with news clippings,” says Margaret fondly, “and she’d send us things she thought we should know about.” Betty’s tastes were eclectic, and she wasn’t swayed by fads or fashion. She adored all kinds of music, from Frank Sinatra and Mario Lanza to Anton Bruckner and Henryk Górecki. Her interest in books was equally wide-ranging, from the eighteenth-century precision of Samuel Johnson to the stream-of-consciousness narratives of William Faulkner. 

Betty moved effortlessly among her many passions. A Sunday afternoon might find her impeccably dressed, complete with her signature coral-pink manicure, attending an elegant luncheon and concert at Davies Symphony Hall. Then, just a few hours later, she’d join her family to watch a Forty-Niners game on television, enthusiastically cheering on her favorite football team.  

Betty served on the Board of Governors of the San Francisco Symphony from 1985 to 1999, and was appointed a Life Governor from 2000 until her passing in 2019. She was also a proud founding member of the Pierre Monteux Society, whose members make a commitment to the Symphony in their estate plans. Betty was an experienced fundraiser for a variety of charitable causes, and she understood the importance of undesignated endowment funds, which allow for maximum flexibility in addressing an organization’s needs in perpetuity. This gave her children the opportunity to create a named endowment in Betty’s honor after her passing. Having attended a memorable performance by legendary cellist Yo-Yo Ma with Betty, “we were thrilled to be able to establish the Elizabeth C. Peters Cello Chair,” says Lisa. All three children agree: “We think she would be pleased!” 

The San Francisco Symphony is thankful for Betty’s leadership of the Pierre Monteux Society, her many years of service on our Board of Governors, and her generosity in remembering the Symphony in her estate plans. We also gratefully acknowledge Margaret Charnas, Alec Peters, and Lisa Peters for their role in carrying forward their mother’s remarkable legacy through the naming of the Elizabeth C. Peters Cello Chair.



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