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Thousands pay their respects to 'people's mayor' Ed Lee

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Thousands of people lined up outside San Francisco City Hall to say farewell to Mayor Ed Lee who died earlier this week of a heart attack. (KGO-TV)

The line for former San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee's public visitation started at 7 a.m. Friday and grew steadily-along with the flowers and personal notes left on the steps of City Hall.

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Despite their mobility issues, including a foot in a cast and the use of a walker, Dante and Melisa made a point to be here today, because they say Lee was just like them.

"His father is a cook, his mother is a seamstress. Our life is like his," sobbed Melisa.

Many described Lee as a "people's mayor" -- approachable and warm. Just ask Evelyn Rose of the Glen Park Neighborhoods History Project who was proud to work in his neighborhood.

"He was always jovial. Always and everybody's been saying it, always smiling," Rose told ABC7 News.

Everyone paying their respects seemed to have a personal story. Beth Schnitzer was with Lee during the unveiling of his wax figure at Madame Tussaud's. "His jaw dropped and he couldn't believe it," she said.
TIMELINE: A look back at the career of SF Mayor Ed Lee

Danny Hwang, a father of two, showed us photos of him and his family at various events with Lee. "He was not afraid to like talk to people. Not just celebrities, but regular people of San Francisco. Every time I go to Scare Crow, there he is giving out candy. It's like what mayor does that, you know," he said.

It's something even the youngest of San Franciscans, like 11-year-old Decklan Cole could understand. "He cared about everyone and when I looked in the newspaper I saw him cleaning up trash for San Francisco, and I really like that."

Former Mayor Willie Brown said Lee's belief in the importance of being equal is what he appreciated the most. "People say he worked for you, no, I worked WITH him. He did not work for me."

By 6:40 p.m. visitors were turned away, and by just after 8 p.m. there was a processional.

It was Lee's last visit to City Hall.
Click here for more stories, photos, and video on Ed Lee.

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