updated 10/30/2006 7:23:43 PM ET 2006-10-31T00:23:43

Sally Lilienthal, a staunch nuclear weapons opponent who founded the influential Ploughshares Fund to help shape the Cold War disarmament agenda, has died. She was 87.

Lilienthal, who was also known for her activism and ubiquitous presence in San Francisco high society, died Tuesday of a bone infection that led to pneumonia, said Naila Bolus, executive director of the fund.

Lilienthal founded the Ploughshares Fund in 1981. Since then, the organization has given away than $40 million in grants to promote peace, including the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which won the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.

Lilienthal was born in Portland, Ore., in 1919. She graduated from Sarah Lawrence College with a degree in English in 1940 and worked for the U.S. Office of War Information in Washington, D.C., before moving to San Francisco.

She worked as a sculptor and as an advocate for minority employment rights before finding her passion in working to quell the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

"The possibility of a nuclear war was the very worst problem in the world, I thought, and I just felt I had to do something about it," Lilienthal told the San Francisco Chronicle in 1996.

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