September 18, 2016
by Suzanne Joe Kai
Its not fair, Rose. You left us way too soon. This portrait of you looking good was taken just a week ago on September 9 by photographer Frank Jang, another San Francisco treasure.
So many stories are running through my mind... We shared some great, crazy times.
I will miss you dearly.
I'll never forget the evening decades ago I was driving with you through a narrow, dark alley in San Francisco Chinatown at the height of that period when gang wars were terrorizing and murdering people.
We were going out together just the two of us, and we could see youth blocking the alley and hear what sounded like a war zone between feuding gangs.
As we got closer we could see their faces - Rose you grabbed and lit cherry bombs I had in my car leftover from the Chinese New Year, and threw them back at them yelling 'get out of our way!' They did.
Rose, you then waved and smiled at the youth, we both giggled, as they stepped back from our car. I sped out of the alley. I'll never forget that.
I was a 22 yr old TV news reporter for KRON TV (NBC). You wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper. Chinatown was your beat, and no one was going to mess with your home.
Those days are long over, thanks to you and other community leaders. You stayed and devoted your life to make the community a better, safer place and you were still on a mission with many new improvement projects.
We can see that in the sparkle in your eyes, as captured in photographer Frank Jang's portrait of you.
Rose - Thank you for being brave and relentless all these years, fighting for the underdog, for the voiceless, the forgotten, the poor, for immigrants, for women, for youth, and for all the good you have done looking after all of us.
May you rest in peace.
Rose worked briefly for the New York Times, and spent eight years as a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper becoming its first female Asian American journalist before she became a full-time community actvist and leader.
Rose died of natural causes following a kidney transplant. San Francisco's City Hall is being lit in white and flags are lowered to half staff in tribute to Rose.
Click here for full story and portrait of Rose Pak taken by photographer Frank Jang on September 9, 2016.