It was a most unexpected and unwelcome middle-of-the-night email. "It is with profound sadness and terrible grief that we confirm that Mayor Edwin M. Lee passed away on Tuesday, December 12, at 1:11am at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital," read the email sent from the mayor's office at 2:23am local time, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. "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," it added. Lee was 65, and had been shopping at a Safeway grocery store around 10pm Monday when he suffered a heart attack and collapsed.
Lee, the city's first Asian-American mayor, was chosen to take Mayor Gavin Newsom's place in January 2011 when Newsom became the state's lieutenant governor. Lee was city administrator at the time. The Chronicle describes Lee as a reluctant mayor, only running for a full term after months of prodding. He won in November 2011 and again four years later. The Chronicle has more on his life of public service, first as a law student who went up against the San Francisco Housing Authority on behalf of public housing tenants upset with subpar living conditions; he became a civil rights attorney, working on behalf of similar tenants and in cases of discrimination. Board of Supervisors President London Breed is now acting mayor.