By Dan Primack
December 19, 2011

A private equity legend passes away.

Warren Hellman, one of the most influential private equity investors of all time, has passed away at age 77 from complications associated with leukemia.

As many of you likely know, Hellman co-founded San Francisco-based buyout shop Hellman & Friedman in 1984. Not only is it one of the very few large private equity firms based on the West Coast, but also was one of the first to focus on sectors like tech and media, rather than manufacturing and retail.

He had previously co-founded the venture capital firm that would become Matrix Partners, after having become the youngest partner in the history of Lehman Brothers.

While Hellman was at Matrix, the firm’s deals included Apple, Continental Cable (now Comcast) and Apollo Computer. At Hellman & Friedman, he participated in such transactions as Nasdaq, Levi Strauss and Young & Rubicam. He also was considered the public face of the firm, which has raised over $25 billion in fund capital and is generally considered one of the industry’s most consistent performers.

“Warren Hellman was not only a pioneer and a leader in the private equity industry, he was an incredibly generous individual committed to bettering the lives of people through his many civic and philanthropic endeavors,” says Steve Judge, interim CEO of the Private Equity Growth Capital Council. “His remarkable track record of building, growing and strengthening businesses will be the hallmark of his professional life, but his dedication to his family, friends, the city of San Francisco and the many he helped along the way will be his lasting legacy.”

For more on Warren Hellman, particularly his philanthropic endeavors, please read this remembrance written by my Fortune colleague Adam Lashinsky.

In lieu of flowers, the Hellman family requests that donations be made to the San Francisco Free Clinic, The Bay Citizen or the San Francisco School Alliance.

A memorial service will be held on Wednesday at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco.

Here’s a video of Warren playing with his bluegrass band, as part of the wildly-popular Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival he organized each year. Rest in peace…

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