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Stay informed on our activities and progress with our occasional e-newsletters.

The Zoe Dell Lantis Heritage Society honors those friends of the Treasure Island Museum who have remembered the museum in their will or trust plans. 

If you have already included the Treasure Island Museum in your estate plans, let us know so that we can add your name to this esteemed group.  Investment through planned gifts allows for long-term strategic planning so that the Treasure Island Museum can preserve the Island’s rich cultural legacy, as well as inspire and inform island residents and visitors.

Be assured that we respect those donors who prefer anonymity and gift details are not required for membership in the Zoe Dell Lantis Heritage Society.


Charter Members include:

  • Zoe Dell Lantis Nutter, deceased

  • Spencer Helfin, deceased

  • Claire Isaacs Wahrhaftig

  • Walt and Nancy Bilofsky

  • Rebecca Schnier & Philip Witte

For more information, contact:   John Hogan, Museum Director at or 415 413-8462

There’s a story behind the name, Zoe Dell, aka Pirate Girl of Treasure Island!

Zoe dell pirate
Zoe dell nimitz

Zoe Dell Lantis, the poster child of the 1939-1940 Golden Gate International Exposition on Treasure Island, returned to San Francisco to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the exposition at the Mechanics’ Institute on April 4, 2019.  “Pirate Girl,” as she was known in those several years when she travelled the breadth and scope of the United States promoting what would become the last pre-war world’s fair, lives as a lesson in longevity as much as she is a beacon of our Bay.


“Treasure Island?!?  That’s where I’m from!” she declared when visited by Treasure Island Museum representatives.  After all, who among us has ever met anyone FROM Treasure Island?  Technically, she’s not.  Zoe Dell Lantis grew up in Yamhill, Oregon and lived around Seattle, Washington in her youth.  But, if Treasure Island has ever made anyone, or if anyone has ever made Treasure Island, it was Zoe.


Clad in her pirate costume of cut-off shorts, halter top, tri-cornered hat, and seven-league boots, Zoe Dell welcomed “oh, just about everyone” to the Golden Gate International Exposition in that sparkling second between Great Depression and World War II.  She flew over 100,000 miles promoting the “Pageant of the Pacific” in cities and at fairs across the country, kissing frogs in Calaveras County, leaping across the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and greeting governors at galas from Denver to Dover. No stunt was too big, no guest was too small.  Pirate Girl was the Bay Area’s first diplomat, par excellence.


The pictures prove it.  Chased around the U.S. by her photographer, Carl Wallen of Hearst Newspapers, she quickly became “America’s most photographed woman” in those halcyon years.  The United States was enthralled with its West Coast innovators – their world’s largest man-made island, their longest-ever Bay Bridge, and their geography & gravity-defying Golden Gate.  Yet even with all the flex of San Francisco’s sheer force of will, the GGIE was not a 21st century-type fair full of futuristic kitsch, like so many others: “Ours could have been at any time, at any age… it was a classic, timeless fair,” says Zoe Dell.


Lady Liberty lifted her lamp beside the golden doors of Ellis Island with the Atlantic flowing inward to its Eastern shores. Out West, across a continent churning with immigrants-turned-industrialists and explorers-turned-expansionists, the GGIE’s 80-foot statue of the goddess Pacifica projected the aspirations of the Exposition outward.  Indeed, as the terminal port of Pan Am’s China Clipper seaplanes and later, as the Naval Station from which many brave service members shipped out to Japan, Korea, and Vietnam, Treasure Island stood from its birth “at the doorway to the sea that roars upon the shores of all these nations,” as FDR proclaimed over the radio during the GGIE’s opening ceremonies in February1939.


Zoe Dell Lantis was there that day, epitomizing that bravado. She defined Treasure Island, and in turn, it defined her. Launching her career from those thousands of flights, she would go on to become a pioneering aviatrix, a daring huntress, and a resolute philanthropist.  Nearly a century after the Gold Rush, she championed the Bay’s redolent luster. When she was over a century old herself, she made a gift to the Treasure Island Museum through her will. That planned gift ensures that Treasure Island will glitter once again.  Welcome back to the Pirate Girl!

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