Homer Yasui was born on December 28, 1924, in Hood River, Oregon, and died of lung cancer on July 25, 2023, in Seattle. He was the eighth of nine children of Masuo and Shidzuyo Yasui, who were immigrants from Japan. He attended the Hood River public schools and graduated in 1942 — by way of a mailed diploma — because by May 1942, he was imprisoned in the Pinedale Assembly Center near Fresno, California. Later, he and his family were incarcerated at Tule Lake prison camp in Northern California as one of the estimated 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry in the U.S. to be imprisoned due to Executive Order 9066, issued by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on February 19, 1942.
In September 1942, Homer left Tule Lake by bus to attend the University of Denver. In September 1945, Homer enrolled at the Hahnemann Medical College in Philadelphia, and graduated in 1949. After an internship in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, he married the love of his life, Miyuki “Miki” Yabe, in 1950 in New York City. In August 1954 — after completing a general surgery residency — Selective Service informed Homer that it intended to draft him into the Army Medical Corps unless he selected another branch of the service. So, he chose to serve in the Navy.
After a couple of months of training, Homer chose to serve at the U.S. Naval Air Station in Iwakuni, Japan, where the family spent 18 happy months, traveling to Kyoto, Hiroshima, and many other historic and beautiful places. After Homer’s release from active duty in October 1956, the family moved to Portland, Oregon.
Homer entered the surgical residency program at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Portland before beginning his solo general surgical practice in 1958 in Milwaukie, Oregon. He practiced surgery for 29 years and retired in 1987. Homer joined the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1958 and spent 12 years with a Marine Corps Reserve engineer battalion, retiring from the Naval Reserve with the rank of Captain in 1984.
After retirement, Homer and Miki became involved with the Japanese American community of Portland, including with the Portland Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League. Homer was president of the Portland Chapter JACL in 1973; co-president with Miki in 1980 and 1981, and the District Governor of the Pacific Northwest District Council JACL around 1982-83. Homer was an outspoken advocate for passing Japanese American redress, overturning the decision in his brother Minoru Yasui’s Supreme Court case, and supporting the Muslim community after 9/11.
In 2003, Miki and Homer moved to the Cherrywood Retirement Village in Portland. In 2015, they moved to The Lakeshore in Seattle to be closer to their two daughters. A lifelong history buff and storyteller, Homer’s last mission in life was to sort, scan, and annotate the hundreds of documents and photographs in the Yasui Family papers, some of which date back as far as 1903. He lived long enough to see the enormous collection begin to be translated and digitized for future generations, thanks to a grant that OHS was awarded in 2022.
Homer was preceded in death by his wife Miyuki Yabe Yasui, parents Masuo and Shidzuyo Yasui, eight siblings, and son Allen Masuo Yasui. He leaves behind three surviving children — Barbara, Meredith, and John — plus eight grandchildren, five great-grandchildren, dozens of nieces, nephews, and other extended family. Donations in Homer’s memory may be made to Portland JACL, the Japanese American Museum of Oregon, Densho, or the Oregon Historical Society. A memorial service will be held at a later date.
DON YUKIO YOSHIDA
Don Yukio Yoshida of Seattle passed away from natural causes on August 2, 2023. He was 89. Don was born in Seattle to Keisuke and Ineko Yoshida in 1933. During the war, the family was incarcerated in the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming.
When the family returned to Seattle, Don graduated from Garfield High School in 1951 and joined the U.S. Army. He was stationed in Japan when he met his future wife. Don worked for the United States Post Office, rising to Quality Control Manager. Upon his retirement, he worked part-time as a news assistant for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.
Don enjoyed photography, fishing, hunting for Japanese mushrooms, playing poker, recreational softball and volleyball, and teaching basic computer skills to fellow retirees.
Don is survived by Fuyo, his wife of 67 years, daughters Brenda and Noreen, son Victor, grandson, granddaughter and great granddaughter, brother Roland (Vicky) and sisters Elaine and Pauline. He was preceded in death by his parents, brother Richard and his wife Akemi. Remembrances may be made to the NVC Foundation, Densho or a charity of your choice.