By Randall Yip, AsAmNews Executive Editor
Germaine Wong worked at San Francisco City Hall for decades and recalls the tragic day that first etched the late Senator Dianne Feinstein into the national spotlight.
Feinstein died this morning at the age of 90 just about 17 months after the death of her husband, Richard Blum at the age of 86.
The Senator first served as president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. When then-Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk were shot and killed by fellow supervisor Dan White in 1978, it was Feinstein’s job to announce the tragic news.
Wong worked on the staff of City Administrator Roger Boas back then and was among just two dozen non-journalists on hand to hear Feinstein break the news.
“I remember how strong, calm and in command, but also on the verge of tears she was when she announced that Moscone and Milk had been killed,” Wong said.
Feinstein went on to be Mayor of San Francisco.
As part of her duties with the City Administrator’s office, Wong often was assigned to work with the Mayor’s staff on various issues.
“Feinstein’s staff asked me to help out at times so people thought I was part of her staff. She (Feinstein) was always gracious,” but only to a point, said Wong.
Her relationship with Feinstein chilled when she supported Moscone for Mayor over rival candidate Feinstein.
Russ Lowe served as the Senator’s liaison to the Asian community for 21 years.
“She was generous to a fault,” said Lowe. “She could relate to people so easily. These are normal people. They are not VIPs. She gives them the face she gives everyone else. What you see is very consistent. I’ve seen that,” he said.
Lowe said Feinstein empowered him to give Asians access to the bureaucracy of the government. She said she helped many Asian families reunite after she assisted with their visa problems.
Lowe said Feinstein died in her sleep at her Washington townhome. She cast her final vote in the Senate the day before.
He said the Senator’s battle with shingles was serious and her death did not come as a surprise to him.
Reverend Norman Fong, a fixture in San Francisco’s Chinatown, expressed his appreciation for the Senator making the Chinese community feel included.
He credits the senator for protecting Chinatown from encroachment from the city’s Financial District and for preserving low income senior housing.
“Rock steady & personable…. What a great leader… and the in SF as well as Nationally… She got it done… and with dignity!” said Fong.
Feinstein held many firsts- the first woman president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the first woman mayor of San Francisco and the first woman elected U.S. Senator in California.
“Dianne Feinstein was a trailblazing woman who devoted her life to public service. My heart goes out to her loved ones, the people of California and everyone whose life was improved by her work. Rest in peace,” said U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) on X.
“Senator Feinstein’s death strikes at the heart of so many of us committed to public service, as she was,” U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI) said. “A courageous trailblazer, she stood up to powerful interest groups on behalf of her constituents and the rest of us. I will miss my kind friend dearly.
“Senator Feinstein was a trailblazer, a proud Californian, and a legislative titan,” said Rep Judy Chu (D-CA) “From banning assault weapons to uncovering human rights abuses by our own government, her legacy is unmatched and her firsts too many to enumerate. May her memory be a blessing.”
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