San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee died early Tuesday morning of cardiac arrest.
On Tuesday, Lee’s office issued a statement that said the Democratic mayor died just after 1 a.m. at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. “It is with profound sadness and terrible grief that we confirm that Mayor Edwin M. Lee passed away… Family, friends and colleagues were at his side. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Anita, his two daughters, Brianna and Tania, and his family.”
Lee was 43rd Mayor of San Francisco, and the first Asian America mayor in the history of the city. He is survived by his wife, Anita, and their two daughters.
Read on to learn more about Ed Lee’s wife, Anita Lee.
1. She Met Ed in a Language-Exchange Program in Hong Kong in 1974
During the interview, Anita shared that she and Ed met through a language-exchange program in Anita’s hometown of Hong Kong in 1974. Anita was Ed’s Mandarin tutor. She tells Steinberg, “He didn’t know Cantonese until I taught him—now he’s very good!”
That same year, Ed graduated summa cum laude from Bowdoin College in Maine. Four years later, in 1978, he graduated from University of California, Berkeley School of Law.
2. She Has Two Daughters with Ed Lee
Anita and Ed have two daughters together– Tania and Brianna.
In an interview with Jon Brooks of KQED News in 2011, Brianna was asked, as a Chinese-American, how she feels knowing that her father is a transformative figure and one of the first to run a major city. She responded, “I feel like his position as a mayor now really shed a lot of light on a lot of the civil right work he did in the past.”
Brianna continued, “He did so much work in progressing things for the whole community before he got to this point. So, I mean, he was a transformative figure before he even got there. I think now it’s being recognized.”
At the time of the interview, Brianna was working for Need to Know, a PBS news program. Her LinkedIn states that she graduated from University of California, Berkeley, in 2007, and continued on to NYU where she received her MS in International Affairs.
Brianna’s LinkedIn also reveals that she currently works as an Associate Editor at KPCC (Southern California Public Radio).
3. Anita and Ed Lee Married in 1980
Ed and Anita were married in 1980.
According to San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, who was close with the Lee’s, Ed was shopping at Diamond Heights Safeway when he suffered the heart attack on Monday night around 10:30 p.m. He was taken by ambulance to San Francisco General Hospital and died at 1:11 am. Brown told CBS local San Francisco, “(Lee’s wife) Anita sent him to do his family chores. He never moved away from being a husband and a father as a mayor.”
Anita joined her husband for many of his interviews on the campaign trail. In 2011, she accompanied Ed to an interview with Eater San Francisco, where the couple was asked questions over a pork bun lunch. Asked what he usually orders when it comes to Chinese food, Ed said, “Dim sum I like because I don’t have to get the same thing. I’m partial to the steamed and fried turnip. In the early years when Anita knew me, I would only order whatever pork buns they have, steamed or baked. Because I love pork buns.”
4. Anita’s Mother Instilled in Her That She Should Never Depend on Any Man
During their interview with San Francisco Magazine in 2015, Ed and Anita were asked if political ambition was something they learned early on in life.
Anita responded, “My mom told me that no matter what, you had to graduate from college and get a job, and don’t think that you can depend on any man. She told me that when I was five years old, and I told my own daughters that when they were five.”
5. Friends and Fans Have Reached out to Anita via Social Media to Express Their Condolences
A number of San Francisco citizens, friends, and supporters have reached out Anita on social media to give their condolences.
On Tuesday morning, Supervisor Malia Cohen said, “I am utterly and totally grief stricken… My heart breaks for (Lee’s wife) Anita and the mayor’s daughters. The entire city family is grieving right now. It’s a very stressful and difficult time. We’ll get through it together. I’m in shock, it’s still hard for me to believe. I was just with him on Saturday.”