As a longtime San Francisco politics writer, Joe Eskanazi knows where the bodies are buried... or, as the case may be, not buried at all. That's what appears to be the trouble with the remains of Chinatown organizer and influencer Rose Pak who died on September 18. In death as in life, Pak seems to be at the center of political power play and subterfuge, and according to Eskanzi she was not, as advertised, interred on September 24 following a massive funeral procession through Chinatown.
"After the ceremony at Old St. Mary’s Cathedral," Eskanazi writes for San Francisco magazine, "Pak’s body was placed in a hearse and paraded through the streets of the city en route to Cypress Lawn in Colma, where it was supposed to be cremated and interred in a plot purchased by Pak’s older sister, Theresa Pak Wang." Instead, Pak's remains were whisked back to San Francisco where they are still housed at the Green Street Mortuary. "This was a phony funeral," Wang tells SF Mag.
WTF why, you ask? Pak's sister, Ms. Wang, says that their youngest sister, Joanna Pak Kish, had the body removed from a crematorium so that it might be subjected to a private autopsy that could result in personal gain. Kish is reportedly considering a malpractice suit against San Francisco’s California Pacific Medical Center, who treated Pak before her death after a prolonged illness. The woman was, according to older sister Wang, "a ticking time bomb," with, to mix metaphors, a fuse shortened by diabetes, high cholesterol, and 40 years of smoking. More than appearing to be rather unnecessary, a private autopsy would have had other adverse effects. From San Francisco Magazine:
According to both Wang and multiple organizers of Pak’s public funeral, Kish and her family pushed hard for a private autopsy. This autopsy, Wang says, would be both unnecessary and would have delayed Pak’s services until after the date that had been publicly disseminated in both the English- and Chinese-language media. Wang authorized Pak’s cremation and hired an attorney named Ernest Der to inform the Green Street Mortuary that there should be no autopsy and the funeral should not be delayed.
But while the funeral did proceed, Wang claims her sister intervened afterward and had Pak’s body whisked away from the crematorium at Cypress Lawn. An autopsy was subsequently performed, according to the manager of the Green Street Mortuary. Pak’s body remains at the mortuary; Wang claims her relatives will not release to her the results of that autopsy. Wang’s husband, John, worries that possession of this autopsy report will allow Kish’s family to access Pak’s overseas accounts.
A probate hearing scheduled for Wednesday will begin to divide up Pak's at least $550,000 estate, further elevating tensions. As that approaches, Wang's husband, John Wang, want matters wrapped up quickly and privately. “I am hoping to save her reputation,” John Wang tells SF Mag, seeming to imply untoward origins for her wealth and possessions. “Let her be cremated,” he said.He should be telling that to his wife: Now Theresa Wang says that she'll refuse to sign cremation papers unless her sister, Ms. Kish, who has been pushing for the malpractice suit, promises to file no such litigation.
Will the Central Subway be running to and from Rose Pak Station, a proposed name for that transit line's Chinatown stop, before Pak's body is in the ground? At this rate...