Farewell Leah Garchik

Leah Garchik is more than just a reporter. Or a community supporter. Or a mere columnist. A fixture at the San Francisco Chronicle for 47 years, she has brightened our mornings by writing a daily column for the last several years about all things San Francisco – from charity functions, to books, to public eavesdropping, to community activism and more. Besides all that, she’s one of the most gracious and considerate people anywhere. She’s retiring June 21 and we will miss her. In advance of that, LCInsights was able to catch up with her and ask her about some of her most memorable reporting. As for the picture, Leah asked us to use this favorite selfie of hers, taken at SFMOMA.

What’s your favorite “Overheard” ever?
“That Samantha can be such an asshole.” It was one young mother to another young mother, both watching Samantha in a playgroup. Of course, I couldn’t write out “asshole.”

Who has been one of your greatest sources for material over the years (of the folks that you can name)?
PR people, of course, and particularly the ones who are happy if their clients’ names are mentioned and not angry if I don’t, for example, list the names of the corporate sponsors of an event.

Do you still hear the ghost of columnist Herb Caen sending you guidance?
My first guidance re Herb was (from my editors), “Don’t step on Caen’s toes.”  I guess it’s kind of reverse guidance. I was only able to stay afloat in his wake by his good graces, his unspoken permission. I tried very hard NOT to appear to be attempting to mimic him; no one could be him or wield the power that he had.

Do you ever get tired of attending parties?
I find I feel bombarded when it’s too big and loud … but those are just the kind of parties that require dress-up, and I do love playing dress-up.  One of the things I’ll miss most are occasions for which I need to get dressed up.

Do you personally have a favorite charity or nonprofit or arts organization?
Creativity Explored and Delancey Street.

What’s the next chapter for Leah?
I am going to buy a big anti-Trump button to wear all the time, even on my pajamas, I think, and then rescue some kind of dog.  And then work on a writing project, a family story.  I’m trying to convince myself that this is just a little change of status: instead of newspaper writer, I become writer. (Wow, does THAT sound pompous!)

Do you have a question for Leah? Ask her in the comments box below or email her at [email protected]

11 thoughts on “Farewell Leah Garchik

  1. Leah, we will miss you in the morning, but look forward to your upcoming book. I’m sure it will be as insightful, engaging and fun as your columns. PS Gaston and Alphonse are thrilled that you’re going to rescue a dog. Cheers, David

  2. Her column will be wholeheartedly missed by the San Francisco community! Looking forward to see what the next chapter of journalism has in store for her 🙂

  3. Thank you, Leah for keeping me entertained, inspired and (sometimes) incredulous! I wear my “I’ve been a Leah Overheard 3 times” as a point of pride…

  4. What can be said about Leah Garchik that doesn’t sound completely sycophantic or overblown. But it would all be true. As she has tried, from the get-go, not to step on Mr. Caen’s toes, she has succeeded in becoming what he was: An unmistakable, influential and entirely engaging voice of San Francisco. I am so grateful for all that Leah has done to support the non-profit organizations of the Bay Area by sharing their behind-the-scenes stories, their artists and the movements and words of those who support them. Leah, you will be missed!

  5. Leah,
    You are joy personified! You’ve given your heart and soul to the city of San Francisco. I’ve always admired your enthusiasm and ability to make people smile with a quirky anecdote, society scoop, or juicy gem of an item.
    Cheers!
    Trish

  6. Thanks, Leah, for the “PR people” shout out! You have always been so wonderful to work with, and when we saw you at events, it felt like, “this is the place to be.” Looking forward to your next chapter(s)!

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