Oakland, CA–January 9, 2018
Mills alumna and former California Secretary of State March Fong Eu passed away on December 21, 2017 following complications from surgery. A third-generation Californian, Eu was born March 29, 1922, to Yuen Kong and Shiu Shee in the central California town of Oakdale where her parents ran a hand laundry.
The first woman Secretary of State in California and the first Chinese American to hold a constitutional office in the state, Eu was elected to the office five times. During her 20-year tenure she is credited with instituting voter registration by mail; providing absentee ballots to anyone who requested them; posting results on the Internet; and including candidate statements in ballot pamphlets.
Toward the end of her fifth term as Secretary of State, Eu resigned when President Bill Clinton named her ambassador to the Pacific nation of Micronesia, a post she held for two years until 1996.
For all her accomplishments, Eu is probably best known for her campaign to ban pay toilets in public spaces in the late 1960’s, arguing that they discriminated against women because urinals were free.
Eu earned a bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley in 1943, a masters of education from Mills College in 1947, and a doctorate of education from Stanford in 1954. The first woman to serve as a division chair at the University of California, San Francisco, where she headed the dental hygiene department, Eu was also the first woman and the first Asian-American elected to the Alameda County Board of Education.
As Eu’s longtime spokeswoman Caren Lagomarsio put it, “She was such an exemplary role model and an encouragement for women to break the glass ceiling.” Eu leaves a legacy of not settling for the status quo and reshaping California politics. She will be greatly missed by the entire Mills community.