In common with many humble people, San Francisco’s Mayor Ed Lee was underappreciated, talked about behind his back, and made the butt of jokes, not all of them kind. And he seemed to care not one little bit.
He was an astonishingly hard worker with his eye trained firmly on what would benefit the people of his city. He was omnipresent, that is you’d see him everywhere around town: at ballgames and the opera, neighborhood diners and high-society cocktail parties, cleaning up dirty streets and cutting the ribbon at school openings, speaking at corporate conferences and union meetings.
For a person in his position, he seemed to care very little about personal publicity. I saw him often at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital (so often, I’d joke with him about moving his office there from City Hall) where he came to visit patients, especially fallen cops and firefighters. No media. No retinue. No fanfare. He came to visit people and their families, and ask them how they were doing and what he could do to help them.
He didn’t get fawning press for his many kindnesses and I don’t think he much cared. I have met very few elected officials with such humility and such devotion to the welfare of others.
He told the corniest jokes, was the biggest fan of the city’s sports teams, and made some adversaries in this liberal, union town because of his pro-business and pro-development policies. But Ed Lee didn’t seem to make any personal enemies. There were many tears the night of his passing. In these ugly and divisive political times, we should all appreciate the example he set in that regard too.
May you rest in eternal peace, Ed. Your city is grateful for your work on our behalf but very much diminished by your passing.