May Gee is 'Woman of the Year'

State Sen. Quentin Kopp picks Pacifican to represent his 8th District

By Chris Hunter
Tribune Editor

State Senator Quentin L. Kopp (I-San Mateo/San Francisco) has selected Pacifican May Gee as the 1997 Woman of the Year from the Eighth Senatorial District.

"May Gee exemplifies the best of the American spirit of volunteerism. In the 40 years she has resided in the coastal city of Pacifica, May Gee has been instrumental in its development, from assisting in its incorporation to serving on the first Pacifica Planning Commission to creating its educational foundation," said Kopp in announcing the honor.

"She is known throughout San Mateo County by effervescence, energy, boundless joy and valued capabilities she has conferred upon numerous civic organizations over the past five decades. It is my personal honor to recognize May Gee's extraordinary commitment to our community by naming her the 1997 Woman of the Year for the Eighth Senatorial District."

"I'm honored to be chosen," said Gee this week. "It was a real surprise." Presently serving as an elected member of the North Coast County Water District Board of Directors, of which she is a past president, Gee was the first woman president of the Pacifica Kiwanis Club and is an active member of the American Heart Association, the Organization of Chinese Americans, the Pacifica Chamber of Commerce, the Women of the Moose, and the American Legion, with which she's been affiliated for 45 years.

A tireless advocate for senior citizens, Gee is a member of the Pacifica Seniors In Action Advisory Council.

Additionally, she sets aside time to volunteer in the Pacifica Community Center, as a classroom teacher's aide at Thomas Edison Elementary School and as the parade organizer for the annual Discover Pacifica Parade during the Fog Fest.

A local businesswoman, Gee and her husband operated a Chinese take-out restaurant in Pacific Manor and later, she ran the Pacifica Ice Creamery on Francisco Boulevard for many years.

Gee, along with the other women throughout the state honored by local senators and assembly members, will attend a celebration in Sacramento on Monday, March 17.

"I think the Lt. Governor is having a reception for the honorees," said Gee. "And Senator Kopp will be taking me out to lunch."

Some of her innumerable accomplishments in Pacifica include:

A staunch Democrat involved in local, regional, state and national Democratic issues, Gee was tapped by Kopp, who is an Independent politician.

"A lot of the time, we don't see eye to eye," Gee admitted. "But we respect each other's opinions. Quentin has been very good to Pacifica through the years, particularly on transportation issues. He always comes through for Pacifica."

Ironically, Gee is also currently working for State Assemblyman Lou Papan, a Democrat. It's a position similar to the one she held when Jackie Speier was the 19th Assembly representative.

"Every time anyone has a fund-raiser or a committee, I'm there," said Gee of her volunteerism. "Whether it was for the Nick Gust celebration or the American Heart Association, I've always helped all the fund-raisers."

Long active in the city she helped create, Gee has a unique perspective on the contemporary woes facing Pacifica.

"I have fond memories of the first Planning Commission and the Incorporation Committee," she said. "We didn't have the factions we do now. When we were on the Planning Commission, most of the houses built were for the returning GI's. The environmental movement did not start until the late 1960s. Iguess we were more progressive (about building) than today."

A little discouraged about Pacifica, Gee said that the city has become "an older community," a change from the vibrant, growing younger community of its origins. "We're working on economic development, but I don't know if we agree on anything," she said. "Everybody has a different idea. Until we all agree, we can't move forward. I'd like to see the citizens support the local businesses more. We have a lot of unique businesses in town and I don't understand why (they struggle). We had everything at one time or another."

Gee said the loss of automobile dealers in Pacifica has been the biggest blow to the economy. At one time, there were as many as three and today, there are no dealerships in operation in the city.

"Considering our income is so low, we'll have to do something about it," Gee said. "We can't cut anymore. We're down to the bare bones. I'd hate to do what they're suggesting."

Is the 1997 version of Pacifica anything like the city envisioned by Gee and the other incorporation activists 40 years ago? "I'm sort of discouraged," she said. "I don't think we're living up to our potential."

Gee also devotes her time to her husband of 52 years, Wing, their four grown children, eight grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.