Wilbur K. Woo, leader of L.A.'s Chinese community, dies
Wilbur K. Woo, a banker and produce merchant who first immigrated to Los Angeles in 1921, when he was 5, and decades later became an influential leader of the city's Chinese American community, has died. He was 96.
Woo, who also worked to strengthen trade relations between the United States and Taiwan, died Monday at his home in Monterey Park of complications from a stroke and pneumonia, his family said.
His son, Michael Woo, was the first Asian American elected to the Los Angeles City Council, in 1985. The Democrat's largest campaign contribution, nearly $200,000, had come from a Republican -- the elder Woo.
"I find myself moving more toward the center because of Michael," Wilbur Woo told The Times on election night and said his son probably could not have won without his generosity.
"If I didn't give him that money, I'm not sure he would have had a chance in this kind of race," Woo said, referring to the hard-fought campaign. "I also think that is what a father is for."
Woo's political clout in Chinatown "afforded his son front-row seats at an ongoing performance that included the major actors in Los Angeles city politics" over a period of more than 30 years, Tritia Toyota wrote in her 2009 book "Envisioning America: New Chinese Americans and the Politics of Belonging."
A longtime political fundraiser, Woo had been in charge of raising money for President Nixon in the city's Chinese community in 1972.
In 1978, The Times called Woo "one of the leading citizens of Chinatown."
-- Valerie J. Nelson
Photo: Wilbur K. Woo, a banker and produce merchant who first immigrated to Los Angeles in 1921, when he was 5, and decades later became an influential leader of the city's Chinese-American community, has died. He was 96.