If you follow or cover San Francisco politics, especially regarding Asian Americans, Chinese Americans or Chinatown, you’ll inevitably here the name Rose Pak. Pak passed away of natural causes at age 68 at home on Sunday, September 18th. Her life, as summarized by the San Francisco Chronicle:
“Calling Ms. Pak, a native of Hunan, China, who moved to San Francisco in 1967, an activist or community advocate doesn’t begin to describe her decades-long role in turning Chinatown and the city’s fast-growing Asian American population into a political power in the city.
Ms. Pak never held an elective office or sat on a city commission, but she helped change the political face of San Francisco, largely by recognizing it was changing. As the city’s Asian American population exploded, she worked to involve her community more directly in city politics.
Born in 1948, Ms. Pak, her mother and sisters fled Communist China to British Hong Kong in the early 1950s. She was educated at Catholic boarding schools there and in Portuguese Macao before coming to California on a scholarship to study communications at the San Francisco College for Women.
After receiving her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University in New York City, Ms. Pak returned to San Francisco in 1974 to work as a reporter for The San Francisco Chronicle and immerse herself in the city’s Asian community.”
Unfortunately, I don’t think I ever really met or spoken with Ms. Pak face-to-face, though I am sure I’ve been some events where she was present, especially if I was in San Francisco’s Chinatown for an event. And I did blog about Pak back in 2011.
I do remember reading about Pak convincing then interim Mayor of San Francisco Ed Lee to run for permanent Mayor of San Francisco, and that annoyed me a bit since Lee’s appointment was based on the promise that Lee would not run for mayor. I was a David Chiu for Mayor of San Francisco supporter.
May she rest in peace.
Photography courtesy of the San Francisco Chronicle.