Our beloved Uncle Bob passed away on Saturday, August 27, 2016, a very sad day for all. Uncle Bob’s passing is a profound tragedy and loss for the Chinatown-International District and the community that he loved. Our hearts go out to Uncle Bob’s wife, Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos, and his loving family.
For us, the InterIm CDA family, this loss leaves a void that can never be filled. Our hearts will ache for Uncle Bob every day and every minute. We will miss him dropping by the office, sitting at his desk, giving us his warm, reassuring hug, and making us laugh with his corny jokes. Whether things were good or bad, Uncle Bob had our backs, no matter the situation.
It’s hard to believe we will never see Uncle Bob again. He loved InterIm CDA. It was his life, and he loved us all dearly. We will now need to proceed on our journey for civil rights and social justice without his physical presence, but we know he will always be walking side by side with us. We will feel his presence as family, every step of the way. Uncle Bob was our beacon of hope, our mentor, and our guide.
Nearly 50 years ago, InterIm CDA was founded to preserve the Chinatown International District, especially on behalf of its low income, elderly, Asian and Pacific Islander pioneers who built the neighborhood. That the Chinatown International District remains intact as an ethnic neighborhood, and a home for low income elderly and families, immigrants, and refugees, is a testament to Uncle Bob’s vision and effectiveness as an activist, organizer, and mentor. He was a fierce and tireless advocate for the Chinatown International District until the end, and he inspired countless others to join in the struggle.
Uncle Bob, along with lifelong friends and comrades, Roberto Maestas, Larry Gossett, and Bernie Whitebear, known as the Gang of Four, forged a path toward justice for people of color in Seattle. We will now need to carry his legacy forward and continue to carry his beloved InterIm CDA on our shoulders.
The days ahead for all of us at InterIm CDA will be very emotionally difficult. Each of us has lost a part of ourselves that can never be replaced. As the InterIm CDA family, we come together to honor and remember Uncle Bob, and commit ourselves with strengthened resolve, to uphold his legacy and everything he stood for. Social justice. Racial justice. Fairness. Economic justice. Activism. API organizing. Immigrant and refugee empowerment. Community. In the spirit and forever memory of Uncle Bob, InterIm CDA remains strong. We seek strength in his loss as we know he would want us to do. Long live the Chinatown International District. Long live social justice. Long live the legacy of Uncle Bob. Uncle Bob Santos is forever in our hearts.