SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — In his 90 years, Norman Mineta accomplished a lot in both San Jose and in Washington DC. He’ll be remembered for the most for how he made people feel.
Mineta’s ashes arrived at the airport that bears his name Wednesday morning. They were carried through San Jose, where he served as Mayor from 1971 to 1975.
“Norman Y. Mineta will always be our friend,” said Rod Diridon, Former Chair of California High Speed Rail Authority.
Rod Diridon spoke at San Jose City Hall about Mineta’s many accomplishments locally but says it’s a long list that doesn’t come close to what he’ll remember most about his friend of 55 years.
“Very sincere friendship. His sincere concern about how I felt,” said Diridon.
Mineta was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives and was a cabinet member under President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo was an intern for Mineta in Washington DC when he was 18 years old.
“The man never forgot anyone’s name and he had such a deep connection to the people he served and it was very important to him that he knew everyone and everybody had a story,” said Liccardo.
There were a lot of firsts highlighted on Wednesday. Mineta was the first Asian-American mayor of a major U.S. City and the first Asian-American Cabinet Member.
“Just incredible in breaking barriers, not for himself, but for so many others who could then follow. Declare tomorrow to be Norman Y. Mineta Day in the City of San Jose,” said Liccardo.
A legacy in both the Bay Area and United States; Reverend Gerald Sakamoto says everyone can learn from Mineta and be inspired by him.
“It was really reach out and he did that. He reached across the aisle on many issues. He worked towards trying to find common ground and collaboration, working together for everybody’s sake and well fare,” said Reverend Gerald Sakamoto, San Jose Buddhist Temple.
A public memorial service for Mineta will be held on Thursday at the San Jose Civic Auditorium at 10:30 a.m. Several prominent figures are scheduled to attend, including former President Bill Clinton.