Hiro Asai was born in Turlock (Cortez), CA, and passed away July 26, 2012 after a month-long illness in St. Mary’s Medical Center, San Francisco, CA. He was 88 years old. He was married to Hisako “Hisa” Asai for 65 years.
Hiro is survived by his wife Hisa; and he has four sons and four daughters-in-law: oldest son, Paul Asai and his wife Iris, son Gary Asai and his wife Rebecca, son Randy Asai and his wife Nancy, son Darryl Asai and his wife Joanne.
Hiro is also survived by 10 grandchildren: Heather, Nicole, Christie, Scotty, Amy, Katie, Jonathan and Jennifer, and step grandchildren Shawn and Athena. There are also 11 great-grandchildren, and a sister, Kiyoko (Asai) Yoshioka of San Jose, CA.
He was preceded in death by brothers, Hideo, Kiyoshi and Yoshio (Yosh).
He was a member of the Stockton Buddhist Church and the Cortez Howakai, Cortez Growers Assn, member of Blue Diamond Growers, Cortez Japanese-American Citizens League, and Friends and Family of Nisei Veterans. He was involved with activities and reunions of the WWII 442nd veterans.
He was known for hosting a late summer lunch at the JACL Hall for the E Co. veterans, family and friends. He would send everyone home laden with homegrown fruits and vegetables as well as produce that he had donated to him by other farmer family and friends.
During WWII his parents and their family were sent to the Merced Assembly Center and then to the Amache Relocation Center during the war. Hiro met his future wife, Hisa, as teenagers while in the internment camp in Amache, Colorado. He left and served in the U.S. Army during WWII. He was with the famous Japanese-American 442nd Unit, in E Company. He was wounded during the war and received a purple heart. This last November, Hiro was accompanied by his granddaughter, Amy Asai, to Washington D.C. to receive the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor which was awarded to the 442nd and received another personal Bronze Medal.
After the war he returned to his home area of Turlock and worked 25 years as a service man for Youngdale’s. Hiro Asai and his family have always been especially grateful to Mr. Frank Youngdale, Sr. for giving him that job after the war because so many employers would not hire Japanese-Americans at that time. All during the time he was working at Youngdale’s he was farming almonds. After 25 years he retired from Youngdale’s and concentrated on his farming, having expanded his farm from 20 acres to 260 acres. His wife, Hisa and brother, Yosh Asai and family all really helped him a great deal in getting started into farming. He also owned a business, H&H Appliance in Merced, as well as helped his son, Randy, with his business, Ray Fisher Pharmacy, located in Fresno.
The family would like to thank many people who took such good care of Hiro during his hospitalization at St. Mary’s Medical Center in San Francisco. A special thank you to cardiologist and dear friend, Dr. Howard Kline and his wife, Ellen; the doctors/nurses and staff at St. Mary’s, especially those who gave him such kind care at the ICU. A very heartfelt and loving thank you to his devoted granddaughter Amy Asai and his son Darryl, who stayed with him almost day and night during his stay in the hospital. We cannot ever thank you two enough for taking care of Hiro.
We also want to thank all the many, many family and friends who visited or contacted him during his time in St. Mary’s. Your caring will not be forgotten.
Hiro always did his best to provide for the security of his family members. His hard work and accomplishments, and especially his ties to his friends from the 442nd has always been important to him. He will be missed by all who loved him. He was a quite a man.
Visitation will be held on from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, August 3, at Turlock Funeral Home, 425 N. Soderquist Rd, Turlock. A funeral will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, August 4, 2012 also at Turlock Funeral Home. Burial will be private at San Joaquin Valley National Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to a charity of your choice.