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Eris M. Field dies at 76; philanthropist and a founder of L.A. Music Center
Eris M. Field, a philanthropist whose focus on the cultural life of the community led her to become a founder of the Los Angeles Music Center and a significant contributor to Walt Disney Concert Hall and to launch the Grand Avenue Pedestrian Improvement Project, has died. She was 76.
Field died Saturday of lung cancer at her home in Beverly Hills. She had been in failing health with diabetes as well as cancer in recent years.
"Eris played a key role at a crucial moment in the history of the hall," said Deborah Borda, the president of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. "The county was at a point where they needed an immediate financial contribution to make the Walt Disney Concert Hall happen. Eris and Larry stepped forward and made a cash gift on the spot," Borda said, referring to Field's husband.
The plaza leading up to the main entrance of the Frank Gehry-designed Disney Hall was named the Eris M. Field Plaza in her honor and has become, Borda said, "the most hand-printed part of the building."
"Frank Gehry took the fact that people felt the need to leave their handprints on the wall as a wonderful tribute to the hall," Borda said.
Field later donated $2.5 million to kick off the efforts to make Grand Avenue more inviting to pedestrians.
In addition to her role at the Music Center and Walt Disney Concert Hall, Field was a friend to the Joffrey Ballet and the American Ballet Theatre as well as an active supporter of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Skirball Cultural Center, the Palm Springs Desert Museum and the Armand Hammer Museum.
She was born Eris Madeline Perll in New York City on Sept. 22, 1932. She was raised in Los Angeles and attended Fairfax High School before moving back to New York in the early 1950s.
It was there that she met her husband, Larry Field, a prominent real estate developer. The couple moved back to Los Angeles in 1965.
Field was diagnosed with diabetes in the mid-1980s. She provided a $2.5-million endowment for the Eris M. Field Chair in Diabetes Research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. It was at Cedars-Sinai that she learned how to cope with the disease, she told friends.
Survivors include her husband, daughters Lisa and Robyn, and two granddaughters.
Instead of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to Brandeis University National Committee, the Jewish Home for the Aging or the Eris M. Field Endowed Chair in Diabetes Research at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.