Beverly Yip, the outspoken Asian-American leader who created innovative social programs for the needy in the San Diego Asian-American community, died Monday night of liver cancer. She was 59.
"She was a tireless spokeswoman for the Asian community and has been a major contributor in increasing awareness of the richness and diversity of Asian cultures, as well as the needs of the community," said Margaret Iwanaga-Penrose, executive director of the Union of Pan Asian Communities, founded by Yip.
"Her death is a great loss to the community," said City Council member Bob Filner, who had known Yip for 16 years.
"In the '70s, she was, and is, the recognized spokeswoman for the Asian community. If you wanted to know what was going on, you talked to her."
Yip is perhaps best known for creating the Union of Pan Asian Communities in 1974, San Diego County's largest social service agency for Asians.
San Diego is home to about 190,000 Asians and Pacific Islanders.
UPAC, which began with a $36,000 grant from the city and county and now controls a $2.6-million budget, manages 24 programs ranging from child care and mental heath to exercise and older-adult services.
The organization serves about 13,000 Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, Chinese, Japanese, Filipinos, Koreans, Samoans, Hmong, Guamanians and Thais, according to the UPAC annual report.
Iwanaga-Penrose said Yip was not just concerned about Asians, but "looked beyond to care about the similar plight of other immigrant families." In 1990, UPAC implemented the Refugee Personal Counseling Service to extend its programs to Ethiopians, Iranians, Eastern Europeans and Soviet Jewish immigrants.
"She was one of those people who performed for the city on wider issues," Filner said. "She was not just pigeonholed as an advocate (for a specific cause)," Filner said.
Yip was a member of numerous San Diego boards and commissions: the city's Housing Commission from 1979-1986; the county's Task Force on Services to Older Minority Persons from 1981-1982; and the Board of Overseers of the University of California, San Diego.
"She was everywhere," Filner said. "She saw the (linkages in) a lot of things: child care, housing, education. . . . "
Yip was born in Victoria, British Columbia, and was a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley.
She resigned as executive director of UPAC last year, when she discovered she had liver cancer.
Yip is survived by her husband, Phillip, son Keith, both of San Diego, and daughter Janice A. Yip of Chicago.
The family requests donations be made to UPAC or to The Wellness Community of San Diego.