SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Longtime San Francisco Chinatown activist Rose Pak died Sunday at the age of 68, according to city officials.
Mayor Ed Lee said in a statement, “This is a great loss to the city as a whole, and the Chinese community in particular—a community that Rose served, supported and fought for, often fiercely, her entire adult life.”
City officials said Pak battled on behalf of the poor, of immigrants and of women, and fiercely advocated for the renovation of public housing in Chinatown.
Pak also strongly advocated for Lee to be appointed mayor in 2011 after then-Mayor Gavin Newsom became lieutenant governor. Lee became the city’s first Chinese-American mayor and was elected to the position later that year, then re-elected in 2015.
Pak worked to transform the Chinese Hospital into a $160 million modern facility, as well as helped make the under-construction Central Subway a reality, connecting Chinatown to San Francisco’s South of Market area, according to city officials.
Lee ordered flags to be displayed at half-staff and City Hall to be lit in the color white to honor Pak.
“She was one in a million. By turns, disarmingly charming and tough as nails. Always with a huge heart and an interest in the community,” Supervisor Aaron Peskin said.
Pak recently threatened to blockade City Hall with vehicles if a plan to turn part of Stockton Street into a pedestrian only area passed.
“We are all in a state of shock, and profoundly sad at this moment,” Gordon Chin, founder and former director of the Chinese Community Development Center said on behalf of Pak’s family.
The San Francisco Medical Examiner’s determined in conjunction with Ms. Pak’s physician that she died in her Chinatown home of natural causes.
Funeral services are pending.
“Rose Pak was a giant in the community, a giant in the history of this city,” Chin said.