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About Eunice Sato

Eunice Sato was the mayor of Long Beach 1980-1982The newest small high school in the Long Beach Unified School District opening this fall is named after Eunice Noda Sato, the first female mayor of Long Beach.

Sato Academy of Mathematics and Science is the first school in the district to be named for an Asian American. Sato, now 93 years old, was born in Livingston, near Modesto. The daughter of Japanese immigrants, her family farmed vegetables in California’s Central Valley.

During World War II, while she was a student at San Jose City College (then Modesto Junior College), Sato was forced to flee to Colorado with her mother and siblings to avoid being interned by the U.S. government. Her father, Bunsaku Noda, had already been jailed as a Japanese American community leader.

She later graduated from the University of Northern Colorado, and earned a master’s degree in education from Columbia University in New York City. Sato subsequently taught school in Michigan and Yokohama, Japan before returning to California.

In 1950, she married Thomas Takahashi Sato, and the couple moved with their three children to Long Beach in 1956. The four-foot, 10-inch wife and mother was a natural leader and quickly became a force in school and church organizations and the local Republican Party.

In 1975, she was elected to the Long Beach City Council, serving until 1986. Sato recalled in an interview with the Long Beach Press Telegram that “Long Beach was really at rock bottom” during her tenure as mayor from 1980-82.

According to Sato, she and her fellow council members managed to put in policies and plans that resulted in the turnaround of a city plagued with budget shortfalls and local economic depression.

After leaving city politics, Sato served as president of the California Conference for Equality and Justice and on three state commissions as well as the National Advisory Council on Educational Research.

"I try to work wherever needed and to do my best to serve society," Sato said. "And when you do that, you have no regrets."