Roy H. Doi

DOI, ROY H., 84, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Molecular Biology at the University of California, Davis, passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by family, on October 9, 2017. He had been diagnosed with inoperable cancer earlier this year.

Roy was born in Sacramento, California, on March 26, 1933, and grew up in Loomis, California. His parents immigrated from Japan in the early 1900’s and worked as migrant farm laborers to support their family of six children. From 1942-45, the family was incarcerated in the Tule Lake and Heart Mountain internment camps.

Roy was a faculty member in the Molecular and Cellular Biology Department at U.C. Davis for over 40 years. In 2004, the Asian American Studies Program at U.C. Davis recognized him for outstanding commitment, generosity, and service to the Asian American Studies Program and Community. In 2006, he was elected into the National Academy of Sciences, considered one of the highest honors a scientist can receive. He was also inducted into the Placer High School Hall of Fame in 2009.

Roy married Joyce Nao Takahashi in 1958, and they had two children, Kathryn (James Gold) and Douglas (Amelia Rosales) Doi. After their divorce in 1991, Roy married Joan Ritchie, whom he had first met at the Heart Mountain camp when they were in middle school, on Valentine’s Day in 1992. Their happy union lasted until Roy’s death. Roy is also survived by his brother Steven (Charlotte) Doi, sister Keren Doi, and many grandchildren, step-children, step-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.

Roy will be remembered for his intellectual curiosity, his humility, his compassion, his avid support for the Cal football team, the 49ers and baseball, and his love of his family, the arts, and travel. In 1972-73, he wrote a series of articles for Nichi Bei about his experiences as a Nikkei professor on sabbatical in Japan. He will be greatly missed by his family and his colleagues in the scientific community here and around the world.

A memorial service for Roy will be held at the Putah Creek Lodge on the U.C. Davis campus on Saturday, November 11, at noon (doors to open at 11:30). In lieu of flowers, the family requests that gifts be made to the Roy Doi Memorial Fund at the University of California, Davis. Gifts may be made online at or checks made payable to the U.C. Davis Foundation and sent to U.C. Davis, Development and Alumni Relations–Advancement Services, 1460 Drew Avenue, Suite 100, Davis, CA 95616.

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