July 30, 1917 — April 14, 2021
Joe Saito, loving husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather, passed away peacefully on April 14, 2021, in Santa Monica, Calif. at the age of 103. He was the third child and only son of Chuichiro Saito and Toku Tabuchi Saito from Okayama, Japan.
Joe was born on July 30, 1917 in Lodi, Calif., briefly lived on a grape ranch in Fresno, and relocated to Japan with his family when he was 2. He did not return to the U.S. until 1936. Joe lived for a time at the Ozawa Boarding House in Hollywood and did a variety of jobs including gardening/landscaping all around Los Angeles.
Joe was watching a movie in Little Tokyo when he got the news that Pearl Harbor had been attacked. During World War II, he was sent to the Manzanar concentration camp and helped build the reservoir there, before being transferred to Tule Lake, due to his responses on his loyalty questionnaire. It was there he met and married his wife, Jean Ayako Kurosaki and had their only child, Judy Shoko Saito.
After the war, Joe moved with his family back to Los Angeles where they lived for a time at the Kobayakawa Boarding House in what is now Sawtelle Japantown. Joe continued to garden/landscape and was part of the Bay Cities Gardeners Association. He participated in various activities hosted at the Japanese Institute of Sawtelle and at the West L.A. Buddhist Temple.
In his soul, Joe was an artist who was a skilled enka singer, photographer, landscaper/gardener, smoker, drinker, lover of spicy Mexican food, and a lover of nature and animals. He cared for many plants and animals at his longtime home on Missouri Ave. in Sawtelle.
Joe is survived by his wife Jean; his daughter, Judy Shiomi; his 4 grandchildren, John, Eddie, Audrey and Gary; and 8 great-grandchildren, Tiffany, Eternity, Kota, Shunpei, Eisuke, Ayame, Olivia, and Kaede.
Rest in peace Grandpa Joe. You will never be forgotten!