Shock: San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee Dies at 65

Lee was first Asian-American to be elected as city’s mayor

Last Updated: December 12, 2017 @ 8:39 AM

Edwin M. Lee, the first Asian-American to be elected as mayor of San Francisco, died unexpectedly Tuesday. He was 65.

“It is with profound sadness and terrible grief that we confirm that Mayor Edwin M. Lee passed away on Tuesday, December 12 at 1:11 a.m. at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. Family, friends and colleagues were at his side,” his office said in a statement to TheWrap.

“In accordance with the City Charter, Board of Supervisors President London Breed became Acting Mayor of San Francisco, effectively immediately,” the statement continued. Lee’s office did not comment on his cause of death in the statement.

Brent Andrew, the spokesperson for the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, told the New York Times that Lee arrived at the hospital in an ambulance at about 10 p.m. Monday after it had picked him up from a residential area with shops and restaurants.

Andrew was unable to say what condition Lee was in when he arrived. However, former Mayor Willie Brown told CNN that he had suffered a heart attack while grocery shopping. Lee served under Brown when he was mayor from 1996 to 2004.

According to CNN, Lee had been a civil servant in the city since the 1980s, when he was named San Francisco’s investigator in the first Whistle Blower’s Ordinance. He then joined the mayor’s office in 2011 when supervisors appointed him to fill the rest of the term of Mayor Gavin Newsom, who left when he was appointed California’s lieutenant governor.

Lee was elected to his own term in 2011 and re-elected in 2015. He was also an affordable-housing advocate and presided over the shift in wealth due to the technology boom in Silicon Valley.

Lee was born in 1952 in the Seattle neighborhood of Beacon Hill. He was one of six children of Chinese immigrants who came to the United States in the 1930s. Lee moved to the Bay Area in 1975 to study law after graduating from Bowdoin College. He also held positions of the city’s human rights commissioner and city administrator.

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