Mourners filed through the San Francisco City Hall rotunda on Dec. 15 to pay final respects to Mayor Ed Lee, 65, who died of a heart attack on Dec. 12. His body lay in repose in a closed casket draped with the American flag, behind velvet ropes and with two guards. Thousands filed past the body, some offering prayers and others bowing in silent tribute. A police motorcade escorted the casket to City Hall, where Lee served as mayor for seven years. The last mayor to lie in repose in the rotunda was George Christopher, who passed away in 2000, and led the city from 1956 to 1964.
A public memorial was held on Dec. 17. Speakers included Acting Mayor London Breed; three former mayors, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and Willie Brown; House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi; San Francisco Chief of Protocol Charlotte Mailliard Schultz; and Misa Malone of the long-running musical “Beach Blanket Babylon.” Invocation was given by Rabbi Beth Singer of Congregation Emanu-El. Benediction was given by the Right Rev. Marc Handley Andrus of the Episcopal Diocese of California. Music was provided by members of the San Francisco Symphony, Glide Ensemble, Preston Turner and Pure Ecstasy. Lee’s daughters, Tania and Brianna, spoke on behalf of the family.
A community candlelight vigil in Lee’s memory will be held on Thursday, Dec. 21, at 5 p.m. at Portsmouth Square in Chinatown. The Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco said in a statement: “Mayor Lee made history as the first Chinese American elected mayor of San Francisco. Coming from a working-class family in Seattle, he dedicated his life to public service and the community as an affordable housing advocate early on in his career.
“Although not originally from San Francisco, Mayor Lee had his roots here in Chinatown. The community respected and appreciated his leadership. He will be remembered for his dedication and his commitment to Chinatown, social services, economic development, and art and culture. Under Mayor Lee’s leadership, Chinatown art and culture blossomed through his support of space activation activities including the annual Chinatown Music and Dancing on Waverly festivals. He recognized the need and power of arts and culture as not only enriching our city aesthetically, but also as economic drivers of our communities. He will be missed.”