OBITUARY: Ronald Yutaka ‘Tubby’ Yoshida

Ronald Yutaka ‘Tubby’ Yoshida

YOSHIDA, RONALD YUTAKA “TUBBY,” 90, passed away peacefully on November 20th. Born to Albert and Tokuko on October 11, 1927 in San Francisco, CA, Tubby was the youngest of four children.

Tubby earned his nickname from his rotund shape as toddler. He graduated from high school in the Topaz (Utah) Internment Camp for Japanese Americans during WWII. After a year at UC Berkeley, he was drafted into the US Army and joined the first class of the Military Intelligence Service (MIS) language school in Monterey, CA. He was deployed in Tokyo and Kyoto as a translator for the occupational government.

After discharge, Tubby went to MIT and graduated in 1952 with a BS in Mechanical Engineering; subsequently receiving a Master’s from UCLA. With his first wife, Yoshie, they had Ronnie. Unfortunately, she passed away prematurely.

At Marquardt Corporation he designed control systems for jet engines, including thrusters for the Apollo moon landing program. He then had a 23-year career at Cal Tech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), where he designed and developed control systems for the Viking Mars expedition and other spacecraft, and also worked on one of the first electric car prototypes. Tubby received a NASA Exceptional Service Medal in 1993. In 2011, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for his service in the MIS.

Tubby had a passion for woodworking and crafted beautiful furniture for his home. He traveled extensively in Europe, Asia and the Middle East, and loved watching the 49ers and the Bruins. He was very active member of the Japanese American Citizen League (JACL) and served as president of the San Fernando Valley chapter in 1972.

Tubby is survived by his wife, Miye, three children Ron (Kelly), Douglas (Jennifer Huang), and Karen Leib (Paul). His five grandchildren brought him the most joy – Kylie, Cory, Shelby, Graham, and Shaun. He was a dedicated and loving father and grandfather.

Service will be held on January 6th, at The Buddhist Church of San Francisco – 1881 Pine St, San Francisco, CA at 2pm.

In lieu of flowers or Koden, please consider a donation to the Topaz Museum –

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