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Matt Fong, Former California Treasurer And Longtime Angeleno, Dies at 57

Updated at the bottom with reaction from L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich.

Matt Fong, a longtime Angeleno and onetime U.S. Senate hopeful, has died, according to the Sacramento Bee.

Fong's mother is beloved Democrat March Fong Eu, who was elected California's Secretary of State five times and served from 1975 to 1994. Matt Fong followed her footsteps, but as a Republican, serving as state Treasurer before vying unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate against Barbara Boxer in 1998.

He was 57. Treasurer Bill Lockyer stated:

Our state has lost a fine leader and a great example of the Asian-Pacific community's tremendous contributions to the California family. As Treasurer, Matt never forgot he was managing taxpayers' money, and never failed to put their interests first. I try to live up to that standard. My heart goes out to Matt's family. I hope they find strength in his courage, and that their grief quickly fades into the quiet joy of memories.

Wikipedia had Matt Fong living in Pasadena, though we think he also lived in Hacienda Heights for a spell.

Update: L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe issued this statement Wednesday afternoon:

I am saddened to learn of the passing of my good friend Matt Fong, former California State Treasurer. Matt was a model public servant, principled and committed to representing the peoples' best interest. A longtime leader in California politics, he was respected on both sides of the aisle for his hard work, dedication and sense of duty to all those he served. He was a loyal friend and supporter and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Paula, and their two children during this difficult time.

Added: The San Jose Mercury News states that Matt Fong died at home in Pasadena following a bout with skin cancer. Citing Associated Press, it states:

His wife, Paula Fong, told the Associated Press, that he died at their home in Pasadena. Fong had undergone surgery, chemotherapy and radiation and other treatments for tongue and lymphatic cancer in recent years, even traveling to the Philippines for stem-cell therapy.

Update No. 2: L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich takes credit for helping to inspire Matt Fong's switch to the Republican Party many years ago:

Matt was a great friend, a dedicated public servant and a strong leader in the Republican Party. In fact, I helped Matt switch from a Democrat to a Republican because of his strong beliefs in the principles of Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan -- family, faith, fiscal responsibility and a strong defense.

Appointed to the State Board of Equalization by Governor Wilson in 1991, he was elected State Treasurer in 1995. In addition, Matt was an outstanding lawyer, graduate of the Air Force Academy, Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Air Force and son of Secretary of State March Fong Eu, the first Asian-American woman in the United States elected to statewide office.

Christine and I were very sorry to hear of his passing and send our sympathies to his wife, Paula, and his children Jade and Matthew.

First posted at 3:41 p.m. on Wednesday, June 1.

[@dennisjromero/djromero@laweekly.com]


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