Sunday, August 28, 2016

"Uncle" Bob Santos dies; credited for saving Seattle's International District

Joe Mabel 
Seattle  community activist "Uncle" Bob Santos passed away Saturday at the age of 82.

Reprinted from AsAm News

A FILIPINO/AMERICAN who forged friendships with African/American, Latino and Native American leaders in the 60’s and 70’s and is credited with saving Seattle’s Chinatown International District died yesterday, Aug. 27, 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.

“Without Uncle Bob’s voice and leadership, I think the neighborhood would probably have been gentrified out of existence,” said Ron Chew, director of the International Community Health Services Foundation. “You wouldn’t see the rich, unique character that shines through.”

Check back later for details for the services being planned for Bob Santos.
(Views from the Edge contributed to this report.)