OBITUARY: HARUO “HOWE” HANAMURA

Haruo "Howe" Hanamura

Haruo “Howe” Hanamura

HANAMURA, HARUO “HOWE,” 93, passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by his family on Aug. 18, 2012. Born on April 10, 1919 in Alameda, Calif., he attended Alameda High School, competing in basketball, football and discus. Within the Japanese American community, he attended Buena Vista United Methodist Church and played for the Mudhens football and Acorns basketball teams. He read voraciously, recited poetry by heart and earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1940.

Howe went on to serve in the now famous 442 Regimental Combat Team, Company L, as an infantryman and squad leader, who eventually was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and a Presidential Unit Citation. Howe and his fellow vets were the subject of a film produced by his daughter, Wendy, “Honor Bound: A Personal Journey” — featuring men who served bravely in the U.S. military during WWII while their families were detained behind barbed wire, their loyalties questioned. He took part in some of the most storied battles of WWII, including the liberation of Bruyeres, France, the Rescue of the Lost Battalion, and the battle of the Gothic Line in Italy, where he was wounded. Howe lived long enough to see his unit receive the Congressional Gold Medal in a ceremony this past February in San Jose.

Returning to the Bay Area at the war’s end, Hanamura married Mary Tsuchiya in 1949 and they went on to raise three children in Oakland, Calif. He worked on the earliest computers at the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory as a programmer and systems analyst during a 35-year career.

Haruo "Howe" Hanamura

Haruo “Howe” Hanamura

Throughout his life, he was also an avid golfer with the Hi-Fli and Swinging Samurai Golf Clubs. Upon retiring, Howe loved caring for his grandsons with Mary — taking them to the African Hall in Golden Gate Park, the train at Tilden, or the Oakland Zoo. For more than a decade, Mary and Howe would gather the family for dinner every Sunday, where they’d play cribbage, hearts and Scrabble.

Even after losing a leg to diabetes in 2000, Howe never lost his zest for life — always looking forward to the next meal, the next game, or the next excursion with Mary. Thanks to her loving care, he beat the odds and lived to see his four grandsons grow into fine young men. Howe and Mary were married for 62 years.

Howe is survived by his wife, Mary; his son, Steven; his daughters, Julie and Wendy; sons-in-law, Wes Fukumori and Michael Okagaki; and his grandsons, Ryan and Derek Fukumori and Jonathan and Kenny Okagaki. He leaves behind one brother, John Hanamura; and many loving nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews in the Hanamura and Tsuchiya families.

A memorial service will be held at Buena Vista United Methodist Church in Alameda, Saturday, Sept. 15 at 2 p.m., with a reception to follow.

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