Ocean Beach 07

James Haruo Hashimoto

March 12, 1923 ~ March 16, 2022 (age 99)

Obituary

James Haruo Hashimoto,

1923 - 2022

On Wednesday, March 16, 2022, James Haruo Hashimoto, longtime resident of Willow Grove, and loving husband and father of three children, passed away at Jefferson Abington Hospital at the age of 99.

Jim was born on March 12, 1923 in El Monte, CA in Los Angeles County to Keihachi and Chito (Fujimoto) Hashimoto, emigrants from Japan.  He was the sixth of eight children, four boys and four girls.

“Jimmy”, as he was known, attended El Monte High School.  He was active in many organizations, including basketball, track, service clubs, and sports editor of the school paper.  He was also elected Vice President of his class.  

Jimmy’s teachers recognized and encouraged his talent for art.  Upon graduation, he was set to start a career in art working for a movie studio to create items like posters for upcoming attractions.  He graduated from El Monte High School in 1941.  But he never got to report for work.  Pearl Harbor was attacked in December.  The U.S. entered WWII.  President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, which authorized the incarceration of all persons of Japanese ancestry along the west coast.  Given only days, they were hastily forced to abandon their homes, farms and businesses, taking only the few belongings they could carry.

Jim’s family lost their produce business and were interned in Manzanar, located at the eastern base of the Sierra Nevada in California’s Owens Valley.  The camp was the first of 10 built throughout the U.S.  It was a collection of crude tar-paper barracks in the remote high desert surrounded by barbed wire and eight guard towers equipped with machine guns, patrolled by military police armed with rifles and bayonets.  Jim never forgot the harsh winds and the constant sand everywhere.  Living conditions were sub-standard.  The lack of privacy was especially hard to endure.  Today Manzanar is a National Historic Site.  To add to the hardship, Jim’s father died just two months after their arrival in camp. 

Jim was permitted to leave camp after three years.  He decided to further his education at Simpson College, Indianola, Iowa.  After the war, with nothing to return to in California, much of his family settled in Chicago, IL.  Jim transferred to Roosevelt University, Chicago, majoring in Marketing.  He graduated in 1948 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.

While living in Chicago with his widowed mother, Jim met Ann Kiomi Arakawa of Maui, Hawaii, who had come to the mainland as a nurse.  Jim’s brother-in-law was a pediatrician who worked in the same hospital as Ann.  He arranged a blind date for New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1955.  Jim and Ann were married soon after, on August 19, 1956.  Daughters Lynn and Lorene were born in Chicago.  Son Jim was born following their move to Pennsylvania.

In 1964, Jim left his job as Assistant Sales Promotion Manager for Chicago’s Admiral Sales Corporation, a TV manufacturer, to take a position with what later became known as Ford Aerospace and Communications Corporation, in Philadelphia/Blue Bell, PA.  He retired in 1977, after 13 years as Advertising Manager, Consumer Electronics Division.  Jim then went on to work for the Denney-Reyburn Co. of West Chester, PA as their Advertising and Sales Promotion Manager until his retirement in 1990. 

Among Jim’s favorite pastimes were bowling and golf.  Jim was a lifelong avid golfer, playing into his late 80’s.  He was also an outstanding bowler.  He once rolled a near-perfect 299.  The bowling alley awarded him the last pin left standing.  Jim made it into a lamp.

Jim’s artistic talent led him to develop his interest in a unique art form.  He best described it as “sculpting leatherwork.”  He taught himself how to carve beautiful pictures into leather in intricate detail; leather was his canvas.  It became a passion.  The walls of his home are filled with his artwork, leather and otherwise.  He received awards at local exhibits, and had the pleasure of sharing his “gallery” when friends would come to visit his home.  Over the years, Jim gave many custom leather belts, wallets, handbags, and pictures as gifts.

Jim was a member of the Horsham Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

Although not coming from a religious background he had questions about life and certain beliefs, especially after the death of his father.  Late in life, he was able to find satisfying answers to his questions through a personal study of the Bible with Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Jim was baptized on March 27, 2010 at the age of 87.  He and Ann, who had become one of  Jehovah’s Witnesses some 40 years prior, sought to encourage those in their community with their positive hope for the future.  Due to the infirmities of old age and the COVID-19 pandemic, Jim used letter-writing to direct people to the Bible for comfort and for answers to their questions.  Up until one month before his death, he was trying to help people.

Jim was preceded in death by his father, Keihachi, his mother, Chito, and all seven of his siblings and their spouses: Joyce Ozeki and Ken, Florence Ando and Yo, Gene Doi and Michael, John Hashimoto and Lois, George Hashimoto and Mary, Betty Kushino and Ken, and Tom Hashimoto and Lucy.

Jim is survived by his loving and devoted wife, Ann, his three children, Lynn (and Scott) Shmidheiser, Lorene Lani (and Robert) Duggan, and James Kei (and Lexie) Hashimoto, together with grandchildren Caitlin Duggan, and Keilani and Noa Hashimoto, along with many nieces and nephews.

He will be deeply missed.

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