Obituary: Luanne Cosgrave Wells
November 29, 1933 – July 15, 2021
Luanne Cosgrave Wells, beloved wife of the late Frank Wells, and devoted mother of Kevin and Briant, died at her home in Beverly Hills on July 15, 2021. She was 87 years old.
Luanne was a lifelong supporter of the arts, education, animals, and the natural environment, and became an active philanthropist supporting numerous arts,education and environmental programs in California.
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Most recently, Luanne served on the Board of Directors of the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts. Luanne joined the Board in 1998 when the organization was known as The Beverly Hills Cultural Center Foundation, and served as a director and member of the Executive Committee for 23 years. She was an active member of several Wallis committees including the Architect Selection Committee, Construction Committee, and Landscape Committee, and was a devoted and passionate steward of the beautifully designed campus gardens and landscape enjoyed by Wallis Center visitors today. As the namesake of the Wells Family Education Courtyard, she steered generous support to The Wallis early and consistently, allowing the Center to plan ambitiously to include not only performing arts, but also arts learning, education and community service in its programming.
Luanne was also a dedicated volunteer and supporter of the Getty, making an indelible mark on the institution through her generosity and leadership. Luanne was a longtime member of the Getty Conservation Institute Council and a founding member of the Getty Villa Council. In 2008, Luanne established the Wells Family Herb Garden Fund to support and enhance the herb garden at the Getty Villa. This garden, long a favorite of guests and staff alike, remains a lasting tribute to her generosity and commitment to making art and culture accessible and enjoyable for all.
Luanne was also a long-standing member of the California Institute of the Arts’ Board of Trustees, serving on the board from 1996 to 2019. She also served on the Board of Directors of the Blue Ribbon, the Los Angeles Music Center’s premier women’s support organization, whose members are committed to arts education, and volunteerism.
In 1989 Luanne Wells and her late husband Frank Wells, former President of The Walt Disney Company, founded Environment Now, a not-for-profit foundation dedicated to protecting and restoring California’s natural environment. Among Environment Now’s many achievements has been the establishment of a “picket line” of 5 water keepers in Southern California protecting the coast from the California-Mexico border to Santa Barbara. These water keepers have protected and improved Southern California’s coastal environment for three decades. Luanne served on the Board of Directors of Environment Now since its inception, and also on the Board of the Los Angeles Water Keeper for many years.
Luanne believed passionately in the importance of education, and supported many educational institutions – including Pomona College, the California Institute of Technology, and Stanford University – and individuals seeking higher education.
Born in Phoenix, Arizona, Luanne moved to Beverly Hills as a young child. She was a graduate of Beverly Hills High School and attended Brigham Young University and the University of California, Los Angeles. Luanne lived in and was an active member of the Beverly Hills community for most of her life.
Luanne spent much of her spare time designing and cultivating a large garden that included unique flowers, trees, plants, native grasses and vegetables from around the world. This “Ranch,” as Luanne referred to it, was a place of reflection, peace, and beauty which brought her great joy and happiness. Luanne shared her passion for gardens and nature with her family, friends, and many world-renowned horticultural experts.
Luanne was an avid fan of The Los Angeles Lakers for more than three decades, and she enjoyed sharing the experience with family and friends.
Wherever Luanne saw a need, she found a way to act on it to help people, animals and the earth and ocean. Her mischievous spirit, boundless energy, unabashed love of animals, and sense of beauty and design that created magical landscapes were unique and never ceased to amaze or enlighten. Both an idealist and a realist, her spirit was wise, courageous, determined and generous. And she always maintained her sense of humor.
Luanne’s meaningful work and broad contribution across so many fields will resonate and benefit the larger arts, education, and environment communities for many years to come.
Luanne Wells is survived by her son Kevin, his wife Stacia, daughter-in-law Mary Hanover, sisters Jayne Unander and Molly Chappellet, and grandchildren Cassidy, Tyler, Luke, Carson, and Sam.