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Everyone’s Uncle and Civil Rights Leader Dies at 82

Bob Santos
Bob Santos

A Filipino American who forged friendships with Black, Latino and Native American leaders in the 60’s and 70’s and is credited with saving Seattle’s Chinatown International District died Saturday at the age of 82.

Bob Santos was known as everybody’s uncle, said Seattle’s Mayor Ed Murray to the Seattle Times.

“Bob Santos touched countless lives across every race, ethnicity, gender, gender identity and age in Seattle. “He was everyone’s ‘uncle’ because of his universal and unwavering friendship, and he was a hero to many marginalized Seattleites who he tirelessly advocated for … and our city is much greater because of his life.”

He was part of the so-called Gang of Four which included Santos, African American leader Larry Gossett, Latino activist Roberto Maestas and Native American leader Bernie Whitebear.

“It’s a great loss,” said Gossett, 71, the only surviving member of the Gang of Four. “When we celebrate his life, it’s going to be a life worth celebrating.”

When redevelopment threatened to carve up and destroy the International District, it was Santos who headed the Seattle Chinatown/International District Preservation Authority.

“We had to be alert to the kind of development that would have destroyed the community,” Santos said in 2005. “You don’t see a prison, a work-release center, an energy-treatment plan. We were able to build housing for seniors and working families.

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