Sean Wilsey’s bestselling memoir, Oh The Glory of It All, really stuck it to his stepmother, whom he characterized as a husband-stealing, stepson hating, monstrosity. Dede supposedly hired a lawyer to stop Sean from writing about his unnatural lust for her and her vicious ways. The controversy was great media fodder, and Sean’s book became a bestseller.
But that was before the world knew that Dede Wilsey raised $200 million for the new De Young museum and pledged to raise another $500 million for a new hospital for children, women, and cancer in UC’s Mission Bay Development. A woman with that kind of fundraising prowess is to be feared, indeed.
Julian Guthrie, a Chronicle reporter, wrote a profile of Dede for this month’s San Francisco Magazine. The article draws a more complex portrait of Dede than the one sketched out in Sean’s memoir. She comes across as a dedicated woman, one driven to be the city’s uber-fundraiser The photos accompanying the story show Dede in her sumptuous bedroom where her monogrammed duvet cover and pillowcases look like they are made of 700-ply Egyptian cotton. There are also lots of pictures of Dede’s dogs, who are like family to her.
Guthrie writes: “But even as she embarks on her biggest campaign yet, Wilsey’s persona of tough-minded saint remains colored by a deeply personal attack. A year before, she had endured the assault of stepson Sean Wilsey’s scathing memoir, Oh the Glory of It All. Wilsey was depicted as the clichéd evil stepmother, a Cruella De Vil with a pack of Maltese. The book received enviable reviews and publicity, with juicy excerpts in publications from coast to coast, from the New Yorker to the San Francisco Chronicle. Though Wilsey dismissed the voyeuristic page-turner as a pack of lies, and friends and family circled protectively around her, the media coverage turned her into a bauble-hungry caricature.
Then, this past January, the barbs were out again when W magazine published a story on
What’s interesting about Wilsey, though, is that neither the censure nor the acclaim seems to have much effect on her at this point. Her friends and foes alike remark how single-minded she is, and in interviews she comes across as funny and chatty but also ferociously determined and blunt—definitely not a lady who lunches—someone with zero self-doubt and no problem talking about herself or saying things an image consultant would have tried to halt midsentence.”