Tom Bates remembers chief of staff: ‘Calvin was like a brother to me’

Calvin Fong (right) in 2012 with then-Youth Commissioner Andrei Crandall at City Hall. Photo: Kathleen Crandall

Berkeleyside learned Tuesday of the unexpected death of Calvin Fong, chief of staff to former Mayor Tom Bates. Fong, who had just turned 58, died Sunday. Bates shared the following remarks in an email Sunday to former staff, friends and extended family, in memory of Fong. 

This morning I was shocked and devastated to receive the news that Calvin Fong has died.

During the week Justin called to let me know that Calvin had a minor stroke and couldn’t have lunch with me next Tuesday as we had planned. He said Calvin didn’t have any signs of physical problems except a minor speech impairment, so when Sbeydeh called this morning with the news, I could hardly believe it.

When I reached Justin, he told me that the stroke which had affected the left side of the brain had moved to the right side. The doctors said an operation was possible but no outcome would be positive. Calvin and his family decided to remove life support and he died early Sunday August 20 morning. A sad, sad day for all of us.

Calvin was like a brother to me. For 14 years he was always there with loyalty, humor, and realistic advice. He had my back, and would do anything for his many friends and for the City of Berkeley. He had great relations with everyone he worked with including Councilwoman Margaret Breland, Councilwoman Linda Miao and myself. He loved Vicky and Justin and his family.

Calvin knew Berkeley better than almost anyone. He was raised here, went to school here. And I believe that as a Berkeley staff member he spent more years of service on the 5th floor than any staff in the history of Berkeley.

I loved him and will miss him terribly. There will be a great void in my life but I’m one of the lucky ones who got to know him, work with him and have him as a friend.

The mayor’s office staff in 2016. Photo: Sbeydeh Viveros Walton
The mayor’s office staff in 2008. Photo: Sbeydeh Viveros Walton
The mayor’s office staff in 2008. Photo: Sbeydeh Viveros Walton