The remains of Norman Mineta, the first Asian American to hold a U.S. cabinet position, returned home to his beloved South Bay community Wednesday for a series of tributes and a formal memorial service.
Tributes were held in his hometown of San Jose, where he was lauded for professional achievements including stints as San Jose mayor, as congressman and holding two presidential cabinet positions.
Mineta, a San Jose native and former mayor of the city, died May 3 at age 90.
On Wednesday, Mineta's ashes were transported via motorcade from the San Jose airport that bears his name to City Hall, where his remains were expected lie in honor in the rotunda for the public to pay their respects until 7 p.m.
Mineta's widow, Dani, and his sons were in the motorcade on the way to Japantown where he started his legendary political career.
Stops included the main Japantown churches and his childhood home.
The goodbyes were more for a friend, rather than for a political figure.
"I think that’s why we’re all out here," said retired San Jose congressman Mike Honda. "That we want to express our personal farewell and to let him know that even though he’s gone, his presence will always be with us."
The procession ended at City Hall with a tribute that included Mayor Sam Liccardo - who started his political life as an intern in Mineta's office, - Rod Diridon who heads the Mineta Transportation Institute and former Councilwoman and County Supervisor Blanca Alvarado.
"It's such an amazing homecoming for dad," said Norman's son David Mineta.
Norman Mineta served as San Jose mayor from 1971 to 1975. He then served as President Clinton's secretary of Commerce in the 1990s before serving under President George W. Bush as Transportation secretary from 2001 to 2006.
Mineta, who also served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 20 years, was a graduate of UC Berkeley and San Jose High School.
A public memorial service is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Thursday at San Jose Civic, where former President Bill Clinton and San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo are expected to be among the speakers.
Face coverings are required at both public events, according to a news release from the Mayor's Office.