OBITUARY: Filmmaker Loni Ding

Loni Ding, an award-winning filmmaker, activist and teacher, was remembered last weekend with a service and procession in San Francisco. Ding died of a stroke on Feb. 20 at Summit Hospital. She was 78.

Ding, who was raised in San Francisco’s Chinatown, attended UC Berkeley, where she earned an MA and Ph.D. in sociology. She later taught media analysis and hands-on production in the university’s Asian American Studies Program in the Ethnic Studies Department.

Ding was the producer of “Ancestors in the Americas,” a PBS series that explored the history of Asians in the Americas. She also wrote, directed and edited two documentaries on the experiences of Japanese American soldiers during World War II, “The Color of Honor” (1989) and “Nisei Soldier: Standard Bearer for an Exiled People” (1984).

In 1983, Ding founded the Center for Educational Telecommunications (CET), a not-for-profit organization devoted to producing, publishing and consulting in the area of multiculturalism. She also helped launch the Neighborhood Arts Program of the San Francisco Art Commission and played a leading role in establishing the National Asian American Telecommunications Association, now the Center for Asian American Media.

Long-time friend Christopher Chow, one of the first Asian American TV reporters in the country, eulogized Ding on the CET Website. “If journalism is dedicated to the proposition that the truth shall set you free, then she was a journalist in the purest sense,” wrote Chow, who first met Ding in 1970. “She used her journalistic skills — researching, writing, questioning, pitching — to get to the heart of a matter, to get the facts straight, to go straight to the sources and let them speak, or to help them find their own voices to share with the world.”

Ding was remembered at a funeral service on Sunday, March 14, 2010 at the Green Street Mortuary in San Francisco, followed by a procession.

Other memorial services for Ding will be held later in the year, including a celebration of Ding’s life by East Coast friends at 6:30 p.m. on Monday, April 12, at the Brecht Forum, 451 West St., in New York City. A service in Berkeley, Calif. will be held at a date to be determined.

Ding is survived by her husband; her children, May Ying Welsh of Doha, Qatar, and Elias Welsh of Oakland; and two sisters.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to complete Part III of the “Ancestors in the Americas” series, care of the Center for Educational Telecommunications, 1940 Hearst Ave., Berkeley, CA 94709. Donations can also be made to the Loni Ding Award in Social Issue Documentary, c/o Center for Asian American Media, 145 Ninth St., San Francisco, CA 94103.

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