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City Honors Rose Pak

Chinatown activist Rose Pak, one of the city’s most colorful and powerful figures, died Sept. 18 at the age of 68. Though her reputation made her a revered and feared figure in City Hall, her reputation spread far and wide. The New York Times eulogized her by noting, “Though she rejected the description ‘power broker,’ Ms. Pak was a feared figure in Bay Area politics for her toughness and outspokenness but also a beloved one because of her humor and her fervor in her advocacy on behalf of Chinese-Americans.”

Her relationship has been central to the ups and downs of Mayor Ed Lee’s terms in office. Though she strongly backed Lee in both of his races, the two had a bitter disagreement about the mayor’s personnel decisions that led to her swinging her political network behind a challenger to Lee’s chosen candidate for the District 3 supervisor’s position. Mayor Lee, in mourning Pak, noted “Rose was tough as nails; she swore like a sailor; she was fearless; and she was relentless, sometimes painfully so. But it was always in service of the cause she most believed in: uplifting her community. She could be rough-and-tumble, and in four decades of close friendship and civic work together, she could be tough on me, too. I have the bruises to prove it.”

The Chinatown Community Development Center, which had worked with Pak for decades on efforts to improve the lives of Chinatown residents, will stick with its plans to honor Pak at its annual event scheduled for Oct. 7. “We will miss Rose,” said Rev. Norman Fong, Executive Director of Chinatown CDC. “Rose always liked a good party.  We at Chinatown CDC promise her a good party.”
Pak had just returned to San Francisco in May 2016 after receiving a kidney transplant
in China.

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