Hundreds attend Rose Pak's wake, SF's ‘Chinatown Rose'

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The wake for well-known San Francisco Chinatown activist Rose Pak was held Friday night at the Green Street Mortuary.

Hundreds attended, including many political leaders for Pak, who died on Sunday.

Outside the mortuary 300 seats were set up along with a large screen to accommodate the overflow crowd.

A steady stream of people lined up to get inside the mortuary to pay their respects to Rose Pak, known as "Bok Lan" in the Chinese community she championed.

One community leader called her Chinatown's rose, one with big thorns.

"She would insult, challenge and fight. We need two million dollars more for Chinatown," said Norman Fong, executive director of Chinatown Community Development Center.
Pak never held political office, but yielded great political clout for more than three decades.

She counted former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown among her close friends.

"She cared a lot about the city. She cared a lot about people and in particular she cared a lot about Chinatown. She was most effective in doing everything she did on behalf of so many people .in the most unselfish way," said Brown.
Pak's moxie was unusual for a Chinese woman of her generation.

Her innate boldness and brashness helped her succeed in what was largely a man's world in Chinatown politics and even in the corridors of City Hall.

One Chinatown housing advocate describes Pak as a mentor.
"Rose was definitely a role model. When I think about her, coming in as a woman, an Asian American to work at the Chronicle when she was young, I see the spirit that we all saw every day in Chinatown," says Cindy Wu, deputy director of CCDC.
Pak's public persona was complex; her personal life, simple.

She lived modestly in Chinatown and cherished her family and the immigrant families she wanted to help.

"She was always confident in her opinions and decisions because she spoke from the heart and did what was right despite any repercussions or backlash she would face," says Oliver Kish, Pak's nephew.
In the course of her life's work, she made friends and foes.

"I fought with her. She was charming on the one hand and a pain in the butt on the other. She held us all accountable ...and I grew to love her," says San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin who represents Chinatown.
"Her legacy is the Central Subway, the Chinese Hospital and the people she left behind, as she said her warriors, to carry on what she fought for. She'll be here for generations to come," says Rose Chung, a friend.
Rose Pak was 68 years old.  Her funeral will be held Saturday at Old St Mary's Church. More than a thousand people are expected.