Castro community leader and SF sheriff's CFO Crispin Hollings dies

  • by Cynthia Laird, News Editor
  • Friday November 11, 2022
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Crispin Hollings. Photo: Courtesy SF Sheriff's Office
Crispin Hollings. Photo: Courtesy SF Sheriff's Office

Crispin Hollings, a gay man who was a community leader in the LGBTQ Castro neighborhood and worked as the chief financial officer for the San Francisco Sheriff's Office, died November 10. He was 61.

According to posts on Mr. Hollings' Facebook page, he apparently suffered a heart attack.

San Francisco Sheriff Paul Miyamoto told the Bay Area Reporter that the office is in mourning.

"It feels like this big hole for me, personally," Miyamoto said in a phone interview. "We fostered a friendship on the job and enjoyed community events together."

Miyamoto also said that he was "amazed" at Mr. Hollings' involvement with Castro groups such as the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District and the Castro Country Club, a sober space in the LGBTQ neighborhood.

"It's very clear how much he will be missed by everyone," the sheriff said.

Mr. Hollings, a Castro resident, served as the treasurer for the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District, said Executive Director Andrea Aiello. He was also involved with the Castro Country Club, a sober community center in the neighborhood.

Aiello, a lesbian, wrote in an email November 11 that she was "shocked" by Mr. Hollings' sudden passing. She stated that Mr. Hollings joined the CBD board in October 2018 and became its treasurer in February 2019.

Reached November 14, Aiello said that she and the CBD board would greatly miss Mr. Hollings.

"He was a valuable board member and someone who shared his opinion," she said in a phone interview. "Personally, I will miss his contributions to the board."

As treasurer, Mr. Hollings "really helped us" simplify the CBD's budget presentation so that people could more easily understand it, she said.

"He was so committed to public service and transparency," Aiello added. "I got to know him on the board and it came up all the time — his belief in local government control."

Billy Lemon, a gay man who's executive director of the country club, said that Mr. Hollings joined the nonprofit's board last year. Prior to that, Mr. Hollings was involved with the club for about a decade, Lemon said in a brief phone interview.

He declined further comment Friday, saying that he and Mr. Hollings' friends were still processing the sad news of his passing.

Sheriff's office spokesperson Tara Moriarty issued a statement late Friday afternoon and expressed the department's condolences to Mr. Hollings' husband, Luis Hollings Casillas.

"We will miss, you, Crispin," Moriarty stated in an email. "The world was certainly a kinder, richer, and more interesting place with you in it. Our Sheriff's Office family extends its heartfelt condolences to Luis and Crispin's family for the loss of this bright star."

She added that Mr. Hollings was a "cherished and valued member of our Sheriff's Office family. He was a long-standing chief financial officer in the City and County of San Francisco and worked alongside many of us in both in the SFSO and other city departments."

"As an unabashedly staunch advocate for the LGBTQ+ community, Crispin mentored many, and elevated others with the breadth of his humor and depth of his insight," Moriarty added. "He fought valiantly for LGBTQ+ rights during a time in history when doing so was not safe, nor accepted. He was also a fierce leader for his neighborhood association and the Municipal Executives Association, donating his time to make others' lives better."

According to the sheriff's office's website, Mr. Hollings joined the department as CFO in September 2016. He oversaw the office's financial services, and managed the 12-person finance and payroll team. Mr. Hollings advised Sheriff Paul Miyamoto and the executive management team members on department financial issues including the sheriff's office annual operating budget. He also provided timely financial analysis, the website stated.

Before joining the sheriff's office, Mr. Hollings worked for the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission as director of financial planning, where he set rates for water, sewer, and public power, the website stated.

Mr. Hollings graduated from the Aircraft Maintenance Division of City College of San Francisco, according to the sheriff's office's website. He repaired jet engines for United Airlines in San Francisco and, before that, Airbus Industrie in Toulouse, France. He later earned his MBA from UC Berkeley, switched careers, and joined the San Francisco PUC, the website noted.

"His interest in public service and criminal justice policy led him to join the sheriff's office, where he has gained a deeper understanding of the multiple groups and issues that comprise San Francisco's criminal justice system," the website stated.

Moriarty stated that Mr. Hollings "a was rare find, having worked in careers that utilized both his hands and his brain. As a CFO, he was a numbers guy who loved spreadsheets and pivot tables. As a former mechanical engineer for United Airlines, his passion for aviation was the impetus for his countless hotel stays overlooking airport runways across the globe."

"Crispin was interestingly fabulous," she added. "He preferred to celebrate St. Crispin's Day over his birthday, he never went without a lunch date (five days a week), and had the longest Christmas card mailing list in the city. If you received a holiday card, elaborately designed by him and his husband Luis, it was truly an honor."

Gay District 6 Supervisor Matt Dorsey had known Mr. Hollings since 2007. They served together on the board of the municipal executives association and were both involved in the city attorney office's legal fight for marriage equality.

Thursday morning their paths literally crossed as Dorsey waved and yelled out a hello to Mr. Hollings, who was riding his bicycle, while crossing the street at Mission and Eighth streets. His death is "absolutely a shock," said Dorsey.

"I am incredibly saddened. What a loss. What a wonderful person," said Dorsey.

"I have known Crispin for years. He was just a decent person," Dorsey said.

In his role on the CBD board, Mr. Hollings spoke out against a proposal in 2021 to place more than 125 security cameras in the Castro. The CBD board unanimously voted against further discussing the issue at its June 7, 2021 meeting, as the Bay Area Reporter previously reported. The cameras would have been paid for by tech mogul Chris Larsen, similar to security cameras he had funded in other parts of the city.

Mr. Hollings was not persuaded. "We don't have any commitment for long-term costs, so that's one reason I'd say kill the program here tonight," Mr. Hollings said at that meeting. "Another thing is ... we are an unelected body that would be imposing a system on this neighborhood outside what the CBD ought to be doing. There's a lot of good work that the CBD can do without being distracted by this."

On Facebook, many of Mr. Hollings' friends posted tributes.

"I'll never forget the day when Crispin burst into the cafe of the Castro Country Club in 2009, when the club was threatened with closure, and exclaimed, 'We can't let this happen!'" wrote Terry Beswick, a gay man who used to be manager of the club. "From that day forward, for me he became a mentor, a hero and friend. And what a kind, thoughtful, wise and compassionate man he was!"

Mr. Hollings is survived by his husband, Luis Hollings Casillas. His former partner, Eric Rofes, died in 2006, as the B.A.R. previously reported.

The sheriff's office is planning a remembrance, though details have not yet been finalized.

This article was updated Friday afternoon with comments from Sheriff's Office spokesperson Tara Moriarty and updated November 14 with comments from Andrea Aiello.

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