SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee, a former civil rights attorney who became the first Asian-American to serve in the city's top post, died early Tuesday at a city hospital at age 65, his office said.
Lee, who had been mayor since 2011, suffered a heart attack while grocery shopping in his neighborhood, former Mayor Willie Brown told CNN affiliate KPIX that he had been told. Lee's office didn't immediately release his cause of death.
"I don't know San Francisco without Ed Lee," Brown told KPIX. "He clearly had ... a lot more to give to the city. I'm going to miss him personally, and I think the city will miss him."
Lee died at 1:11 a.m. PT at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital with relatives, friends and colleagues by his side, city officials said.
Board of Supervisors President London Breed became acting mayor of San Francisco city and county upon Lee's death, the mayor's office said, citing succession rules in the city's charter.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Anita, his two daughters, Brianna and Tania, and his entire family," Breed said outside the hospital early Tuesday. She said she would speak further with reporters later in the morning at City Hall.
An earlier version of Lee's official schedule of public events for Tuesday shows he planned to conduct meetings at City Hall in San Francisco.
Lee had been a civil servant in San Francisco since the 1980s, when he was named investigator for the city's first Whistle Blower's Ordinance.
Lee rose to the mayor's office in 2011 when, while serving as city administrator, the board of supervisors appointed him to fill the rest of the term of Mayor Gavin Newsom, who left to become California's lieutenant governor.
Lee was elected to his own term in 2011 and re-elected in 2015.
Serving as the city and county's first Asian-American mayor -- in a county where more than 35% of residents are of Asian descent -- is part of "the height of his legacy," Brown said. Lee served under Brown in various civil posts when Brown was mayor from 1996 to early 2004.
"Unlike all the rest of us (who) got elected -- we got elected by our own skills to convince people and to sell people on us as an idea -- Ed Lee earned that title by demonstration of being an efficient person who could manage a huge enterprise like San Francisco," Brown told KPIX.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer joined other California elected officials Tuesday in mourning the sudden passing of Lee.
"I am saddened to hear of the passing of Mayor Ed Lee," Faulconer said via Twitter. "Ed was a problem solver whose optimism and love for his city inspired many. My heartfelt condolences are with the Lee family and their loved ones during this difficult time."
Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. issued the following statement:
“On behalf of all Californians, Anne and I extend our deepest condolences to Mayor Lee's family, his many friends and the entire City of San Francisco. Ed was a true champion for working people and epitomized the California spirit. He'll truly be missed.”