Celebration of Life Service Honors Late San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee - NBC Bay Area
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Celebration of Life Service Honors Late San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee

Ed Lee was San Francisco's 43rd mayor and its first Asian-American mayor

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    Celebration of Life Service Honors Late SF Mayor Ed Lee

    The late San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee was remembered Sunday for his humility, integrity and infectious smile during a public celebration of his life at City Hall, attended by family members, former staff, politicians and residents. Sam Brock and Terry McSweeney report. (Published Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017)

    The late San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee was remembered Sunday for his humility, integrity and infectious smile during a public celebration of his life at City Hall, attended by family members, former staff, politicians and residents.

    Lee, who died last week at age 65, had a love of life and a devotion to public service, said Gov. Jerry Brown, one of several prominent Democrats who spoke during the ceremony.

    "I never saw him down," Brown said. "Every time you saw him, he was happy, he was expressing a very upbeat attitude."

    Memorial Service Celebrates Life of Late San Francisco MayorMemorial Service Celebrates Life of Late San Francisco Mayor

    Lee, also a Democrat, was San Francisco's first Asian-American mayor and a former civil rights lawyer who led the city out of recession and into an economic recovery driven by the technology industry.

    He died early Dec. 12 after collapsing the night before at a grocery store. The medical examiner's office has not released a cause of death.

    Acting Mayor London Breed recalled the rapturous reception Lee received during an official visit to China, where his parents were born.

    Life and Times of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee Life and Times of San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee

    "He was like a superstar. An icon," she said. "Everywhere we went and to everyone we met, Lee was like Beyoncé with a mustache."

    Lee's casket was not present, as it was on Friday when his body laid in repose in the rotunda of City Hall.

    His daughters, Tania Lee and Brianna Lee, shared the microphone and remembered their father for his boundless energy when it came to serving San Francisco, whether it was by giving speeches, stuffing envelopes or waking up early on weekends to paint over graffiti.

    Public Writes Condolences Messages for Late Mayor Ed Lee's FamilyPublic Writes Condolences Messages for Late Mayor Ed Lee's Family

    A crowd gathered at City Hall early Friday, with thousands waiting to pay their respects for Ed Lee. Some people prayed, others made the sign of the cross, and still others bowed three times — once to acknowledge heaven and earth, then to acknowledge the person who has passed away and finally for Lee's family. They also moved into a side hall to write their condolences. Sam Brock reports.

    (Published Friday, Dec. 15, 2017)

    "It was absolute love for the city that kept him going," Brianna Lee said.

    The women announced the formation of the Edwin M. Lee Community Fund that will continue to address issues important to the late mayor including care for the homeless and fighting discrimination.

    U.S. Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, both from San Francisco, also eulogized Lee.

    RAW: San Francisco to Host Public Memorial Honoring Late Mayor Ed LeeRAW: San Francisco to Host Public Memorial Honoring Late Mayor Ed Lee

    San Francisco will honor late Mayor Ed Lee, who died suddenly Tuesday, in two public memorials.

    (Published Friday, Dec. 15, 2017)

    Local celebrities, government workers and residents came to say goodbye to Lee on Friday. Many stopped momentarily before his closed casket that was draped in an American flag and behind velvet rope. Some bowed or prayed, saluted or cried before continuing to a side room where they could write condolences.

    Outside the building, floral bouquets and handwritten notes filled half of the steps. One message on a piece of tie-dyed cloth referenced the San Francisco Bay Area-based Grateful Dead and its late guitarist Jerry Garcia.

    "RIP. 'What a long strange trip it's been.' P.S. Say hi to Jerry," it read.

    Procession Held For Late San Francisco Mayor Ed LeeProcession Held For Late San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee

    San Francisco resident Calvin Yee said he did not know the mayor but identified with Lee, who was also a second-generation Chinese American. Yee wants his two sons, a college student and college graduate, to emulate Lee's dedication to public service.

    "I want them to know that public service is a valued and important part of our everyday lives, and you can serve others, and that's how you can, to me, gain true happiness," Yee said.

    Edwin Mah Lee was born May 5, 1952, in Seattle to immigrants from Toisan, a rural village in China's southern province of Guangdong. His father was a cook, and his mother a seamstress. They raised Lee and his five siblings in public housing.

    Mayor Ed Lee Remembered at San Francisco City HallMayor Ed Lee Remembered at San Francisco City Hall

    Lee was city administrator when he was appointed to serve the remainder of former Mayor Gavin Newsom's term in 2011. He was elected to the position later that year, and he was re-elected in 2015.

    Supporters say Lee tackled homelessness and built affordable housing unlike any San Francisco mayor before him.

    Critics blamed him for a modern-day San Francisco where jobs are plenty but housing prices are among America's highest.

    But supporters and opponents praised him as a kind, polite man whose corny jokes will be missed.

    "He told terrible jokes!" former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown said. "He laughed because he was trying to build enthusiasm for his jokes!"

    The Lee daughters added: "Most of the time, he told jokes that he could barely get through because he was laughing so hard himself."