Lawson Iichiro Sakai
Oct. 27, 1923 – June 16, 2020
Lawson Iichiro Sakai, born Oct. 27, 1923, resident of Morgan Hill, Calif., passed away peacefully on June 16, 2020. Lawson was born and raised in Montebello, Calif., moved to Colorado for a short time during WWII before enlisting in the army. He served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a segregated unit for Japanese Americans, and earned a Bronze Star,a Purple Heart and a Combat Infantryman Badge for his service during the campaigns in Italy and France. He married Mineko Hirasaki of Gilroy, Calif. on April 8, 1946.
Lawson and Mineko opened their own travel business which they ran until retiring in 1990. Lawson founded the Friends and Family of Nisei Veterans, a non-profit dedicated to preserving the legacy of Japanese American veterans. He was active as a leader of the organization, participating in many reunions and tours to Italy and France as recently as 2019.
He is survived by his children Kenneth (Lynda) Sakai, Joanne Sakai (Dallas Foster), Janet (Noriaki) Ito, and Dennis Sakai (Linda Durrin), grandchildren, Kelly (Francesca) Sakai, Nicholas Sakai, Mika Ito (Byron Yamada), Gaku Ito (Aya Ino), Kisa Ito (Erik Fujinami), Stephen Sakai, Kimberlee Sakai (Morad Alvarez), great-granddaughter Mie Yamada, and many other relatives. He is predeceased by sisters Misako (Perry) Sumida and Mieko Sakai.
Private funeral services were held on June 27, 2020 at Gavilan Hills Memorial Park in Gilroy, Calif. Pending COVID19 restrictions, a memorial service will be scheduled later this year.