California Native Maruya Marks a Century

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David and Mary Jo Maruya celebrating his 100th birthday in Oakland.

David Takuzo Maruya has joined the exclusive club of centenarians, having turned 100 years old on May 25.\

“Dave,” as he’s called, is a Nisei whose Issei parents migrated to the United States in the early 1900s seeking an opportunity for a better life. The Maruyas settled in Brawley and started farming with their five kids (Junko, David, Al Soto, George and Mey) to help out. Dave was the oldest boy and with that held an enormous responsibility to manage the farm while going to school.

In 1939, World War II broke out, and in 1942 Executive Order 9066 was implemented and the Maruya family was forced out of their beloved farm and sent to an internment camp in Poston, Arizona. In 1944, Dave and his brothers were allowed to work anywhere in the United States except the West Coast.

David Maruya served in the Military Intelligence Service during World War II.

Dave decided to go to Cleveland, Ohio to work as an auto mechanic for a Chrysler/Plymouth dealership. He was there only a couple of months when he was drafted into the U.S. Army, which sent Dave to the Military Intelligence Service Language School in Minnesota to learn to read, write and translate Japanese, as well as geography, map-reading and surveying.

On his way over, by boat, to his assignment in the Philippines, the war ended. He was then reassigned to South Korea, where his job was to do land surveying at the 38th Parallel. After two years, Dave was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army.

After the war ended in 1945, the Maruya family decided to relocate to Los Angeles, in the Boyle Heights area. Junko, the eldest daughter, went to L.A. first to find a house for the family and got a job with The Kashu Mainichi as office manager, journalist and photographer. Junko was with The Kashu for over 40 years and was a well-known and beloved person in Little Tokyo.

Dave came back to L.A. , got married had a daughter, Patricia, and settled in Gardena. In 1951, Dave was hired by the Los Angeles Unified School District as a bus mechanic. He worked his way up to foreman and remained there for more than three decades, retiring in 1984.

During his retirement, Dave became a locally well-known woodworker, a passion from his youth. He turned bowls, vases, plates, cutting boards and other numerous utilitarian objects.

David Takuzo Maruya has accomplished much in his long life and at 100 years old it can’t get any better than that. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAVE!!

— PATRICIA MARUYA

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