SATORU “SAT” SAKUMA
October 28, 1925 – May 17, 2022
Satoru (Sat) Sakuma, 96, passed away peacefully in his sleep on May 17, 2022. Sat was born October 28, 1925, on Bainbridge Island, to Takeo and Nobu Sakuma. WA. He was one of 10 children, eight brothers and two sisters. Sat attended school and worked on the family strawberry farm until the forced removal in 1942. Executive Order 9066 authorized the exclusion of all persons of Japanese descent, including US citizens, from certain zones and their removal to detention camps. Bainbridge Island was the first zone for removal, and the Sakuma family was one of the first families removed to detention in Manzanar, California.
Sat was 15 at the time and a freshman in high school. After the first year in camp, the family was transferred to Minidoka, Idaho, where Sat first met his future wife, Kazuko (Grace) Arima. In the fall of 1944, at the age of 18, Sat was drafted into the United States Army. Sat served his tour of duty with the segregated Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team in the European Theatre, both in the infantry and as a radio operator.
Additionally, two of Sat’s brothers also served in the 442nd as three other brothers served in the Military Intelligence Service. By the end of the war, the 442nd infantry was the highest decorated army unit for its size and length of service in US military history. The mantra of the 442nd was “Go for Broke”, as they put everything on the line both in the war abroad as well as the fight against racism and discrimination at home.
After the war, the family moved to the Skagit Valley where the older Sakuma brothers had already started farming Strawberries. Sat along with his five brothers started Sakuma Bros. Farms, which continues today, as the legacy is continued by the third and fourth generation of Sakuma Family members. Under Sat and his brother’s leadership, the Sakuma Family business developed a reputation of excellence in the small fruit industry and as leaders in the community.
After returning to the Skagit Valley, Sat and Grace were married on December 6, 1954, and had four children who were raised on the family farm. Sat continued to work on the farm throughout his career even keeping his desk at the office until the very end.
Sat is survived by his sisters Lucy Ota and Lillian Aoyama; children Bryan (Barb) Sakuma of Burlington, Becky (Ken) Ogata of Seattle, Carol (Cliff) Schroeder of Anacortes, and Glenn (Kimberly) Sakuma of Burlington; fifteen grandchildren; and fourteen great-grandchildren. Preceding him in death were his wife Grace; parents Takeo and Nobu; and 7 brothers.
Memorial donations in Sat’s name can be made to the Skagit Valley Hospital foundation, Skagit County Fire District 5-Allen Dept, Bainbridge Island Japanese American Community (BIJAC), Ashely Gardens.