Former BART board director and newspaper publisher James Fang dead at 59

Former BART board member, attorney and newspaper publisher James Fang died Friday of a heart attack.

Fang, 59, was a prominent figure in the local Chinese community who at the time of his death was serving as general counsel for Bank of the Orient. His death was first reported by the World Journal.

The oldest son of Florence Fang, an influential business person, philanthropist and political fundraiser in the Chinese community, Fang was born in San Francisco and graduated from UC Berkeley and UC Hastings School of Law.

He worked as director of commerce and trade under Mayor Frank Jordan before going to work for the Chinese and English-language newspaper company owned by his family, which purchased the San Francisco Examiner in 2000. Between 1995 and 2010 he served as deputy publisher of the San Francisco and San Mateo Independent, president of the San Francisco Examiner and publisher of Asian Week.

He was elected to the BART board in 1990, when he was 28, and held that position for 24 years before he was defeated at the polls by entrepreneur Nick Josefowitz. He also served as chair of the San Francisco-Shanghai Sister City Committee.

“He had a very happy life,” his family said in a statement.

He is survived by his wife, Daphne.

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