A Long, Fulfilling Life


Tex Nakamura with Irene Yoshioka, Yukio Kawaratani and Phil Shigekuni. (Jon Esaki/JANM)

Tex Nakamura with Irene Yoshioka, Yukio Kawaratani and Phil Shigekuni. (Jon Esaki/JANM)


Editor’s note: Attorney and civil rights advocate Tetsujiro “Tex” Nakamura passed away on Sept. 7 at the age of 98. The following was written by his daughter.

My mother, Lily Yuriko, told me as a young child how Dad was so good to her and his family. We came first in his heart. His own brother and sisters always listened to him and took his lead with great respect and admiration.

He told me of his fond memories of his sister playing the piano and taking his youngest sister to the park to play on the swings. His brother was always by his side in school days and at Berkeley. He studied so hard at Berkeley to get straight A’s to be admitted to law school.

He always spoke so highly of his parents, especially his stepmother, who guided him from the age of three after his mother’s passing.

When his younger brother was accepted to Berkeley, his parents were unable to afford for two of them to be in college and grad school. At first his brother said he would go to Sacramento JC but my father said, “No, Berkeley is a whole new experience and education. I want you to experience Berkeley,” so my father gave up entering law school and his brother became a successful CPA.

It was after the war, at the age of 39, that he fulfilled his dream of becoming a lawyer with the support and help from my mom and four children, with another baby on its way. This was my dad, always giving and tenaciously working hard for his goals, but accepting each obstacle in his path and working through each one. This is why he was able to live a long, fulfilling life of 98 years.

When his recent caregiver, Rose, asked Dad what his secret was to his longevity, he told her, “Don’t worry, it is what it is. And get a good education. Reading is important.”

He and Mom put all five children through undergrad and graduate school. USC, UCI, UCSB, Hastings were the universities we graduated from.

He was an unbelievable role model to all of his grandchildren. When his first grandson was about 4 years old, Dad asked him what he wanted to be. I anxiously awaited his answer to Grandpa. He answered, “I want to make pizzas!” (Ninja Turtles was the craze then), and I thought, “Oh no, why didn’t I rehearse a more appropriate answer to this question!”

Grandpa looked at Kevin and said, “Pizza? Well, I will help you make them.”

This was the beginning of the mellowing of Tetsujiro Nakamura. His heart was so soft for his grandkids and he had a personal bond with all seven of them. He lived to watch them grow up into fine, educated young adults who have so much to offer to others too.

A recent highlight of his life was the birth of his first great-grandchild, Zoe Lily. She visited him and sat on his lap. He would ask every morning, “Where’s Zoe?”

The cycle begins again, with the love and wisdom he left us with. Thank you, Daddy.



1 Comment

  1. Phil Shigekuni on


    What a wonderful tribute to your dad. I am sorry I did not have a changc to get better acquainted with him. You and your brothers, I know, are a living testiment of the rich and fulfilling life he lived.

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