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Sheila Kuehl Receives Order of the Rising Sun

Sheila Kuehl Receives Order of the Rising Sun

Sheila Kuehl, retiring at 81, is honored at her final Board of Supervisors meeting. Photo by Mark Boster.

“The only thing I was born with is an I.Q. of 150,” said former Board of Supervisors member Sheila Kuehl, referring to her I.Q. score of 150, the first among her family.

She is retiring at age 81, and the Board of Supervisors honored her at its April meeting. She is also one of six recipients of California’s highest honor, the Order of the Rising Sun, announced on Sunday.

The Order of the Rising Sun, often called the “Order of the Rising Sun of Japan,” is a tribute to Japan’s Emperor Jimmu-no-Hi, one of the first Japanese emperors after contact with Western civilization. In the Order’s creation ceremony, the Japanese Emperor is presented with one of his mother’s hairs.

Members of the Board of Supervisors, including Mayor Mark Farrell and Supervisor Cindy Chavez, also attended the honor.

The honor was given by former Secretary of State Bill Jones to four of his colleagues who are retiring.

“It is an honor to be given the Order of the Rising Sun,” said Kuehl. “It gives me great pleasure to accept it and to honor the other five recipients. The Order is for people who leave something behind, who leave an imprint on history and who continue to contribute to this city.”

Kuehl was a longtime supervisor in the cities of San Francisco and Monterey and was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1981. Since then, she has been widely regarded as one of the most accomplished, visionary, and courageous women in San Francisco. But, for more than two decades, she’s also been one of the most admired and respected public officials.

“She will be missed,” said City Administrator Ed Graffam. “She’s been an icon and example here. She’s one of those who leaves a mark on the memory — just as the woman who came to visit us today did at her retirement party.”

Graffam was especially moved at the sight of Kuehl’s long, flowing black hair,

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