Frank Takaaki YasuiJuly 1, 1921 ~ September 21, 2017 (age 96)
Frank Takaaki Yasui was born in Dee, Oregon on July 1, 1921.
His father was Iemon Yasui
His mother was Yoshiko Hori Yasui
His siblings were Michiyo, Fusaye, and Haruo
His parents had come to Oregon from Japan to try farming but decided to return to Okayama-ken, Japan when Frank was 5 years old. In Japan he attended school through the 5th grade. He says he was a rascally kid who caught and skinned frogs and twirled snakes around for fun as well as getting into constant fights with other boys. His best school subject was math. His parents had a rice farm which he helped with. He remembered walking through winter snow in his getas and getting cold snow caught between his toes.
When he was 12 his uncle, Tokujiro Yasui, asked him to return to Dee to help on his farm. It was a 12 day voyage on a ship from Kobe, Japan to Seattle. He was detained in Seattle for 3 days by Immigration services. A Mr. Masuo Yasui (unrelated) was paid to meet him and pick him up. At the farm they grew various produce including asparagus, beans, tomatoes, watermelon, cantaloupe, and cherries. Frank originally had dual citizenship but later gave up his Japanese citizenship when the U.S. government required him to make a choice.
In Dee, Frank was placed at age 12 in first grade due to his inability to speak English. He progressed rapidly and quickly caught up to his peers in school. He attended school regularly while concurrently spending mornings and evenings working on the farm. He was affiliated with the Methodist church. As a young man, he attended Buddhist events and conventions in Portland and Spokane which he enjoyed as social occasions where he met new people and attended dances. Dancing was an interest he appreciated for much of his younger years. He later held dance parties in his home occasionally.
When World War II began, Frank was held at the Fresno Assembly Center before being sent to Tule Lake for internment for approximately one year due to being a “No-No Boy.” Then he was transferred to Minidoka Internment Center. At Minidoka he volunteered for the work release program and was allowed to leave the camp to do labor for farmers in eastern Oregon. He faced much discrimination in those days including refusal of lodging and buying groceries. He spent one night in a jail cell since no hotel would rent him a room. At Minidoka he met his future wife, Emiko (Amy) Nigo. They were married on November 10, 1945 in Ontario, Oregon, in the Methodist church which is still standing.
His family and hers went to Portland in 1945. His first job there was with the SP&S (Spokane, Portland, and Seattle) Railway where for a short time he spiked rails and did gang work. Then he and Amy’s father leased and operated the Merchant Hotel on S.W. 3rd and Davis for 5 years. He and Shig Hinatsu owned and operated a garage and service station on E. Burnside for 4 years. After selling the hotel lease in 1950, he and Amy bought a house on N. Sumner St where they lived until 1972. He began work at ESCO Corporation in 1950 where he remained for 30 years. He started as a grinder in the foundry, became a lead-man, and ended as a foreman.
His hobbies included fishing, especially for salmon, and he loved to take out his boat during fishing season and occasionally for family outings. He also puttered around the house, taking good care of his yard, garden, and home upkeep. He was a longtime member of Obukan Judo and helped to instruct students, referee tournaments, and support Judo in Portland. In later years, he enjoyed regular trips to several casinos and sometimes to Reno. He and Amy fondly remembered a trip to Hawaii and some trips to Japan to see relatives.
They moved to a home in S.E. Portland in 1972 and remained there for about 40 years. Their final years were spent at Russellville Park Senior Living, Powell Valley Assisted Living, and finally at Glendoveer Adult Home Care.
Frank was a great husband to wife Amy, a devoted and dedicated family man who was a great father to son Roger (Carolyn) and daughter Sharon and who cherished his four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. He valued education and family. He had many friends in the Portland Nikkei community who think of him fondly and will miss his presence. He was an admirable man of quiet dignity and unwavering strength. He will always be remembered with love and respect.
At Frank's request there will be no funeral services.