Former Long Beach Mayor Eunice Sato Passes Away

Eunice Sato, the first woman and first Asian American to ever serve as Mayor of Long Beach, passed away on Feb 12. She was 99 years old.

Sato was born to Japanese immigrants in Livingston, California in 1921. Her family fled to Colorado when she was young after the government began interning the Japanese. She attended the University of Northern Colorado and then Columbia University. She became a junior and senior high school teacher in Michigan and later taught college-aged women in Japan.

Sato eventually made her way back to California where she became involved with her local PTA. From 1975 to 1986, she served on the Long Beach City Council, representing the Seventh District. She served as the city’s mayor from 1989 to 1982. She is credited with helping the city turn its bleak financial situation around. During her tenure, the city began focusing on revitalization of the downtown.

Sato was beloved by the Long Beach community, even long after her retirement. The lifelong Republican was appointed to numerous state commissions when Gov. George Deukmejian was in office. Former President George H.W. Bush appointed her to the National Advisory Council on Educational Research in 1991. She served as president of the California Conference for Equality and Justice. The Long Beach Unified School District also opened the Sato Academy of Mathematics and Science in her honor six years ago.

“Eunice was a marvelous person,” former Mayor Bob Foster told the Long Beach Press-Telegram. “I’m saddened by her loss. She loved the city and worked hard to improve it.”

Assemblyman Patrick O’Donnell called Sato a “tenacious trailblazer.”

Read more about Sato’s life and passing here.