OBITUARY: Japantown Community Leader Steven Doi, 92

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SAN FRANCISCO — Steven J. Doi passed peacefully on Aug. 3 at age 92 after a brief illness with his daughters by his side.

Steven J. Doi

He was predeceased by his loving wife of 53 years, Charlotte.

Born in Auburn on June 28, 1928 to Thomas Toshiteru and Ima Doi, he is survived by his daughters, Sharon Doi and spouse Michael Swan, Sandra (Doi) Sandford and spouse David Sandford, and grandchildren Lia and Samantha Swan and Nicholas and Charlotte Sandford.

Doi was the only attorney bilingual in Japanese and English in San Francisco for many years and provided pro bono work and advice to numerous community organizations.

A man of boundless energy and enthusiasm, he was president or held board positions with the Japanese American Citizens League, Pine United Methodist Church, Japanese Chamber of Commerce, Omotesenke (tea organization), Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, International Farmers Aid Association, San Francisco State University, Asian Inc., Nichibei Kai, Japanese American National Library, Japan Society, Osaka-San Francisco Sister City Assocition, Sumitomo Bank, Morning Star School and Cathedral High School.

These groups all benefited from his time and attention, his organizational skills and his contacts — but maybe not his corny jokes. He was a lieutenant (retired) in the U.S. Army, serving in heavy artillery during the Korean War. At the root of his volunteering was that he cared deeply about people and had a strong desire to serve.

Doi’s personality and fierce work ethic were forged from the great difficulties of World War II and the incarceration of the Japanese Americans. He emerged as a man who would lead in the healing and building of the Japanese American community in San Francisco.

He mourned the loss of his wife every day. He spent many evenings with his grandchildren and treasured his time with them. The family is very grateful to Ming Laoposri, Koon and Jhoon for their loving care.

In the future when it is safe to gather, the family will hold a community memorial in San Francisco in his beloved Japantown.

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