The amazing life of Isao Fujimoto

BOUNCING BACK: COMMUNITY, RESILIENCE & CURIOSITY

By Isao Fujimoto (Sacramento, Calif.: I Street Press, 2017, 77 pp., $9, digital)

It is sometimes hard to believe Isao Fujimoto’s lifetime of experiences. He was born the eldest son of farmers living in Washington state’s Yakima Valley. Throughout his life, he has been a student, a teacher and a community leader. His life, spanning 83 years, weaves in and out of these roles, notably earning his Ph.D. at age 76 after retiring from teaching at University of California, Davis for more than four decades.

Fujimoto tells his story candidly and it is filled with nods to his colleagues, teachers and students who all are accomplished in their own rights as experts in their field. He meanders through his memories of childhood growing up on a Yakima Indian reservation where Japanese American farmers were allowed to rent land despite the racist Alien Land Laws, along with his wartime experiences after his father was arrested by the FBI. He talks about the first time coming to Berkeley from Coyote, Calif., going from small-town farm boy to a community leader helping to incubate Davis, Calif.’s farmers market and food co-op.

Through all of these experiences, Fujimoto finds success, partly through his emphasis on community and his positive attitude toward working with others.

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