Alicia Gwynn on Her Next Big Moves—and Remembering Tony
The philanthropist and entrepreneur opens up about her wine line, music, and inspiring others
Photo by Tyren Redd
Alicia Gwynn is a philanthropist, entrepreneur, recording artist, and of course, the widow of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn. She’s carrying on his legacy by continuing what was important to him—impacting young people’s lives. That means overseeing scholarships for underserved kids playing on travel baseball teams as well as attending music camps that she helps run. She’s also pursuing her own dreams, going on tour with her inspirational music. One of her stops will be Las Vegas, where she’ll perform in a big gospel show with greats like Kirk Franklin. Gwynn is also launching Lish Wine (pronounced “Leesh,” her late husband’s term of endearment), and to top it all off, she still made time to be the keynote speaker for San Diego Magazine’s 2019 Celebrating Women event at The New Children’s Museum downtown.
You’re in charge of your late husband’s legacy. How do you navigate all that?
It’s not an easy task, because people feel they can just do anything with my husband’s name. I try to use it meaningfully. Tony always wanted to teach them baseball, but the most important thing was to teach them how to become great human beings by teaching them to do the right thing and to live in a respectable way. Tony was all about the character of a person.
What was it like to manage someone as a brand, and then go home and make dinner for him?
You know, he was so simple. What you saw in public, he was the same person at home. Tony just wanted to come home and be with his family. He made my life simple and easy. Tony never really acted like a superstar. That never mattered to him. Even after he retired, people would talk about what he did, and he’d say, “Yeah, but that was when I was playing. It’s all about my kids right here. The most important thing is for them to grow up and be fine human beings so they can have an impact on someone else.”
Tell me about Lish Music.
I had a bucket list where I always wanted to sing and I always wanted to dance. I remember Tony used to say, “Lish, you oughta go ahead and do it.” I was managing my daughter and she was singing. I’d say, “Anisha, finish your album,” and he’d say, “What about yours? When are you going to do yours, Lish?” So, he would always push me to do it. I think that’s my only regret, that I’m not doing it while he’s alive.
Let’s talk about women’s empowerment. Why is that important to you?
It’s all about the heart for me. I see the person’s heart first before I see them. I love helping women learn to love themselves. Every woman should be comfortable with who they are. I’m not so driven by the external environment—what you see on TV, how people look. I need to be comfortable from within first. I love myself, and I think it’s really important for women to be happy with who they are, and be confident with who they are.
How did Lish Wine come about?
Every time I used to meet with people, they’d say, “Would you like a glass of wine?” And I would say no. My mentor said, “Why do you always say no?” And I said I think it’s the way I grew up. My mom and dad were elders at the church and that kind of stuff didn’t go on. He said that has nothing to do with your salvation, and he brought a lot of things home for me. My daughter is a wine connoisseur. She loves wine. I use it as a social thing. I love to have a little wine tasting with some of my friends.
What’s one of your proudest charitable moments?
We have a music camp—a little music room at my house. They work there singing, learning how to write, how to sound engineer. One of my proudest moments was the other day, one of the young men sent me his picture. He was in our music camp [Gwynn’s Music Camp], and he said, “I’m on my way to Clark in Atlanta. I got a scholarship. Because of our music camp, I’m going there to be a recording engineer.” That made my heart feel so good. It was so cute because he sent me a picture of him and his suitcase at the airport.