Ed Lee, San Francisco’s First Asian American Mayor, Dies at 65

San Francisco Mayor Edwin M. Lee, who championed affordable housing and the tech boom in Silicon Valley, has passed away at 65.

Lee collapsed suddenly while shopping at a local Safeway grocery store near his home in Glen Park at around 10:30 p.m. on Monday, according to SF Gate. He was rushed to San Francisco General Hospital where he died at 1:11 a.m. surrounded by his friends and family. His death was ruled a heart attack.

“It is with profound sadness and terrible grief that we confirm that Mayor Edwin M. Lee passed away on Tuesday, December 12 at 1:11 a.m. at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Family, friends and colleagues were at his side. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Anita, his two daughters, Brianna and Tania, and his family.” the mayor’s office said in the statement.

Many people went on social media to express their grief for the beloved mayor.

Born on May 5, 1952 in Seattle to Chinese immigrant parents, Lee was one of six children. His mother was a seamstress and his father was a war veteren who died when Lee was a teenager. He graduated from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, in 1974 and received his law degree from University of California, Berkeley, in 1978.

During his time as a law student, Lee sued San Francisco over unsafe and unsanitary conditions in the first tenants’ rent strike against the city’s housing authority, according to Reuters. He became a fully fledged civil rights attorney shortly thereafter.

Lee was appointed mayor by the Board of Supervisors on January 11, 2011 after Mayor Gavin Newson resigned to assume office as Lieutenant Governor of California. He was elected on November 8, 2011 to serve out his full term as mayor and was reelected in 2015. He’s the first Asian American Mayor in San Francisco.

Lee is survived by his wife, Anita, and two daughters, Brianna and Tania. London Breed, the president of the board of supervisors, will now serve as acting mayor, following the city’s rules.

Featured Image via Flickr / Commonwealth Club (CC BY 2.0)

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