[Seth-Trips] F Market memorial ride

Seth David Schoen schoen at loyalty.org
Mon Sep 2 00:24:21 PDT 2002

An obituary in the S. F. Chronicle for Donald Chee this week:

	Donald Chee, a San Francisco Municipal Railway project manager
	who was responsible for Muni's wildly successful F streetcar
	line, died Monday at UC San Francisco Medical Center.

	Mr. Chee, who was 61, suffered from a particularly virulent form
	of cancer and died only 10 days after retiring from city

	Mr. Chee spent 25 years working for the city's Hetch Hetchy
	Water and Power project and the Municipal Railway.  His
	principal monument is the streetcar line that features old
	streetcars from around the world and runs down Market Street
	and the Embarcadero, connecting the Castro with Fisherman's

	"It was his baby," said Muni spokeswoman Maggie Lynch.  "He
	built it."

	Mr. Chee, a famously diplomatic man with a winning smile and
	an eternally optimistic point of view, was in charge of
	construction and later operation of the six miles of track
	down the middle of San Francisco's main street, and the later
	extension along the northern waterfront to Fisherman's Wharf.

	He was able to earn the cooperation, respect and even the
	affection of such diverse groups as the contractors who
	built the line, the political powerful Fishermen's Wharf
	merchants and the crews that operate the cars.

	His death "is a great loss," said Alessandro Baccari,
	executive director of the Fisherman's Wharf Association.  "He
	was a beautiful man who took great pride in his work.  He
	loved the city."

	Baccari said that when a problem would come up, particularly
	through the heart of the Wharf, Mr. Chee would appear at
	Baccari's office bearing a bag of lemons.

	"Alessandro," he would say, "let's make lemonade."  Baccari
	said Mr. Chee would insist on making a pitcher of lemonade
	and then work on solving whatever the problem was.

	"Don Chee was a gift to the city," he said.


	Mr. Chee was born in San Francisco and attended local schools
	and UC Berkeley, where he earned a degree in electrical
	engineering.  After a stint in the Peace Corp in Liberia, he
	taught in New York and then returned to San Francisco.

	"That was always his home," said his wife, Eunice, who met
	Mr. Chee in Liberia.

	He went to work for the city, first as a project manager with
	Hetch Hetchy and later with Muni.  His first big Muni job was
	extending the J Church light-rail line from 30th and Church
	streets at the edge of Noe Valley to the Balboa Park BART
	station.  He later took over the F line project.

	When the job was finished, the F line had become one of the
	most successful vintage streetcar lines in the world.  It
	operates with a fleet of cars painted in the liveries of
	different transit systems; one of them resembles a boat,
	and a few are real antiques.  One of the cars will observe
	its 90th birthday this year.

	The F line carries 20,000 riders a day -- more than the entire
	ridership of some Bay Area transit systems.

	Mr. Chee used to ride the cars as often as he could and would
	point out to strangers the joys of riding the rails.  "Other
	people can have a job," said Eunice Chee, "but for Don, it
	was a passion."

	Besides his wife, Mr. Chee is survived by his mother, Tengay
	Wong of San Francisco, his brother, Tom Chee of San Francisco,
	and his sister, Suzi Cherry of Arizona.

	At Mr. Chee's request, there will be no funeral services.
	Instead, Eunice Chee said, he hoped there might be a party
	to remember him.

See also


including pictures of the streetcars themselves


I love the F line and would like to take a trip along the full route
in honor of Mr. Chee.  (Maybe tomorrow?)

Seth David Schoen <schoen at loyalty.org> | Reading is a right, not a feature!
     http://www.loyalty.org/~schoen/   |                 -- Kathryn Myronuk
     http://vitanuova.loyalty.org/     |

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