I never had the honor of meeting Sue Bierman, but news that the former San Francisco supervisor died Monday afternoon after her car crashed into a dumpster in the Cole Valley, got the current supes sharing memories of her at the August 8 Board meeting. leaving me with the impression of a much loved, sometimes feared, outspoken and universally respected 82-year old.
Here's just a sampling of some of the many tributes made:
"Volumes could be written about the accomplishments of this woman," said Sup. Gerardo Sandoval said. "She was probably a grandmother/sister figure to many of us."
Sup. Aaron Peskin called her "an incredible person, an FDR-type Democrat," and the woman responsible for stopping the expansion of the freeway into the panhandle.
Said Sup. Ross Mirkarimi, "she was a hero in so many battles in San Francisco..most recently, when we were trying to bring attention to excessive, disproportionate closure of schools, Sue Bierman and her daughter were on the front line. She was very disarming, but very strong. I will miss her dearly."
Sup. Sean Elsbernd acknowledged that "should she and I have served on the board together, we would have had a few disagreements. I'll miss her look."
Sup. Tom Ammiano recalled how,"When Carole Migden put on lipstick, Sue would follow. You knew something was going to happen, as if a secret handshake was involved...I don't know if there's a highway to heaven, but thanks to Sue it ain't a freeway."
Sup. Bevan Dufty remembered how Bierman had a lot of influence over Mayor Willie Brown. "If you heard him cussing at Sue, you knew she'd won one over him."
Sup. Michela Alioto-Pier noted how she and Bierman often did not agree when they were both on the Port Commission.
"She very eloquently told you, she was very forceful, she was always the first person to call, it was dismaying to hear her voice on the machine, saying, 'Michela,' in a shaky voice," Alioto-Pier recalled.
Sup. Chris Daly said bBerman was the champion of young adults--and renters.
'She understood what made San Francisco great."
And Gloria Young, clerk of the board, recalled trying to get Bierman, who served on the Board from 1992 until she was termed out in 2000, vacate her office at noon on the last day , so to tidy up before the new supe [Peskin] arrived.
"Absolutely not," Bierman is said to have said. "I'll be working until the end of the day, It's important to acknowledge the constituents who put us in office."
"And she left me with a big stack of books," added Peskin. "They're still on the shelf."