Wilbur Woo immigrated to Los Angeles in 1921, became the head of his family's Chungking Produce Co., a vice president of Cathay Bank, and emerged as a top Chinese American community leader and political fundraiser in Los Angeles. Woo, a Republican, was the top contributor when his son, Democrat Michael Woo, ran and became in 1985 the first Chinese American elected to the Los Angeles City Council. Woo's political clout in Chinatown "afforded his son front-row seats at an ongoing performance that included the major actors in Los Angeles city politics" over more than 30 years, author and academic Tritia Toyota wrote in her 2009 book, "Envisioning America: New Chinese Americans and the Politics of Belonging," quoted in today's LA Times obituary. Wilbur Woo was also the father of Los Angeles Times staff writer Elaine Woo.
Woo died Monday at his home in Monterey Park of complications from a stroke and pneumonia.