KETTERING, Ohio — Pete Hironaka, long-time editorial cartoonist for The Pacific Citizen, passed away on March 25 at the age of 87.
The Kettering, Ohio resident was born in Sacramento, grew up in Salinas, was interned at the Poston camp in Arizona during World War II, and graduated in 1951 from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
In addition to his 53-year tenure with the Japanese American Citizens League’s national newspaper, which began in 1957, he worked as an artist for The Dayton Daily News and as a commercial artist for E.F. MacDonald and many Dayton-area companies and advertising agencies.
In a tribute published in 2010 upon Hironaka’s retirement from The Pacific Citizen, JACL Vice President for Public Affairs Ron Katsuyama wrote, “His initial publication was prompted by Mike Masaoka’s ‘Washington Newsletter’ column that raised concern about an apparent decline in public recognition of the supreme sacrifices of Nisei soldiers during WWII. Since then, other themes are identifiable: the value of kindness and compassion and a need for advocacy on behalf of the ‘underdog’ or ‘outsider’ due to cultural insensitivity or bigotry …
“Pete leaves a lasting legacy through his art, which conveys JACL’s values of democratic processes and social justice. These penetrate deeply into our consciousness, reminding us of all that has been right with efforts on behalf of our organization.”
An active member of the JACL chapter in Dayton, he published a book, “Pete Hironaka’s Report from Round-Eye Country: A Collection of Sketches, Both Verbal and Visual, by a Transplanted American,” in 1981.
He enjoyed golfing, painting, cartooning, and children, especially his grandchildren. Preceded in death by his spouse of 60 years, Jean, and four sisters and one brother, he is survived by a son, Stan (Laurie) Hironaka; a daughter, Cathy Hironaka; grandchildren, Kate and Peter Hironaka; and sisters, Miyo Yamada, Shirley Sato, and Agnes Deguchi.
A memorial service was held on April 2 at Routsong Funeral Home in Kettering. Condolences may be sent to the family at www.routsong.com.