Junwo “Jim” Yamashita
May 20, 1924 – December 19, 2017
Junwo “Jim” Yamashita was born on May 20, 1924 in Santa Ana, California and passed away at his home on December 19, 2017 after a short illness. He was the sixth child of Tsurukichi and Nao Yamashita’s twelve children. His parents were sharecroppers on the James Irvine ranch until the revision of the California Alien Land Law made this impossible. When he was one, his family moved to Overton, Nevada where they worked from dawn to dusk and then from dusk into night to cultivate their newly purchased land. His parents taught their children it was not a disgrace to work hard and that sacrifice and endurance were part of the Yamashita way. Jim remained in Overton until May 1943, when he entered military service. He was assigned to I Company’s 4th platoon in the newly formed 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Upon returning from the military service in January 1946, he helped on the family farm for a few years before moving to Southern California.
Jim married Marian Yoshida in 1951. Together they raised three children and also owned B & H Television and Appliance Store in La Mirada and then La Habra. Jim was one of the founding members of the 442nd Veterans Association. He was also involved in organizing the Suburban Optimist Club of Buena Park and helped start the South East Youth Organization, SEYO. He was most proud of his work honoring the men who lost their lives in the war. He worked tirelessly to collect and share information about these men. In 1997 Jim participated in organizing the Americans of Japanese Ancestry World War II Memorial Alliance.
Jim will be lovingly remembered by his family for his sense of humor, easy-going nature, generosity and passion for all things related to the 442nd. He is predeceased by his wife, Marian, and his son, Glen. He is survived by his brother, George (Carol) Yamashita and his sisters, Meri Kurushima and Lily (Ted) Yamaguchi. Jim is also survived by a large extended family and his immediate family which includes: his two daughters, Nancy (Howard) Hawkins and Wendi (Michael) Coombs, daughter-in-law Noel Kinoshita, his seven grandchildren Derek (Briana) Hawkins, Laura Hawkins, Kate Hawkins, Ashley Yamashita, Mikey Kinoshita, Alyssa Kinoshita and Alison Coombs as well as his great-grandson, James Hawkins.
A memorial service will be held at 1:00 on January 27, 2018 in the Sky Rose Chapel at Rose Hills Memorial Park.