By Billy Perrigo
December 12, 2017

The mayor of San Francisco, Edwin M. Lee, has died at 65, his office said on Tuesday morning. The cause of his death was not given.

He was the first Asian-American to serve as the mayor of San Francisco, having been born in Seattle to immigrant parents from China. He previously worked as a civil rights lawyer.

His death was announced in a statement from his office early Tuesday morning. It read: “It is with profound sadness and terrible grief that we confirm that Mayor Edwin M. Lee passed away on Tuesday, December 12 at 1:11 a.m. at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital. 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.”

He was appointed interim mayor in 2011 by the city’s Board of Supervisors, after his predecessor was named California’s lieutenant governor. He initially said he did not want to hold the office, but eventually changed his mind and won an official mandate in an election later that year. He was re-elected in 2015.

Lee moved to the Bay Area in 1975 quickly became involved in housing law. He made his name fighting for immigrant housing rights, leading a rent strike against unsafe conditions in 1978. He became San Francisco’s human rights commissioner in 1991, and was appointed city commissioner in 2005.

The president of the city’s Board of Supervisors, London Breed, became acting mayor upon Lee’s death, the mayor’s office said.

Write to Billy Perrigo at billy.perrigo@time.com.

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