OBITUARY: Robert Yushi “Bob” Inouye

Robert Yushi “Bob” Inouye

INOUYE, ROBERT YUSHI “BOB”, 84, had more lives than a stubborn cat but eventually left us on January 21st, 2018, peacefully holding his wife’s hand. He passed away surrounded by family in San Francisco, the city he loved by the bay.

Bob was born in the town of Alviso near San Jose, California on April 25, 1933, the youngest of five children. He was a Kibei Nisei, born in America then moved to Japan before the War and thereafter returning back to the United States.

After being raised in Fukuoka, Japan, in 1949 he boarded the American Press Line ship destined for San Francisco at the tender age of sixteen with a $225 no interest loan from the United States government.

A few years later, Bob joined the US Navy and served in the Korean War. In 1955 he married Kyoko Kurihara of Kumamoto, Japan and started their family in San Francisco. After graduating from beauty school, he opened “Robert’s for Hair,” a salon catering to the elegant women of Nob Hill. This was ideal for Bob to work for himself since his family maintains that he would argue with any boss he worked under. Bob was an individualist, nonconformist, and an informal cowboy; a quintessential maverick always up for a good heated argument or debate.

Many remember Bob for his distinct fashion sense. His shoulders squarely pulled back, he often dawned a cowboy hat and a pair of cowboy boots with pride. He never wore jeans; instead, always tailored dress slacks topped off with a custom jacket.

He was demanding but also known for his soft side. He sponsored and hosted dozens of families immigrating from Japan to settle in the U.S. and treated everyone from the regular folks to dignitaries the same way.

Bob was an avid bonsai gardener, landscape, portrait and modern art painter, karaoke lover and a terrible poker player. He was often asked to emcee small gatherings to large events in the Japanese community for his quick wit and showman skills. He had many life-long friends and now reunites with the ones that have passed, very likely teasing and joking as they catch up with each another.

Memorable moments for Jiichan Bob were spent with his grandchildren on weekend Calistoga trips and inviting his family on a Mexico cruise to celebrate his 50th Wedding Anniversary with his wife Kyoko. He loved road trips and his final trip in 2012 proved meaningful riding in a Sprinter van to Seattle and Lopez Island in Washington state. His own father crossed the Pacific from Japan to Seattle exactly 100 years prior. Bob remarked he saw the same view of Mt Shasta as his father did in 1912.

Bob loved life and loved people, always encouraging us to live our lives to the fullest.

He is pre-deceased from his father Ryosaku Inouye (1885-1975) and mother Hama (Tsutsumi) Inouye (1897-1937), step-mother, Matsue Inouye and sisters Ayako Inouye and Yoshiko Kimura.

He is survived by: His wife of 62 years, Kyoko, a fabulous cook who made Bob his favorite dishes, traveled with him to different countries and was his steady anchor in life. His son, Douglas H. Inouye (Megumi), of San Francisco, CA and the three grandchildren he adored Michael, Madeline and Melanie. His youngest son, Lloyd S. Inouye, of San Rafael, CA, his brother George Inouye (Ruth), of San Francisco and his sister, Keiko Tsukano (Kiyokata), of San Francisco and many nephews and nieces.

A memorial service for Bob will be held at Duggan Serra Mortuary, 500 Westlake Avenue in Daly City, on Saturday February 17th at 11am. Ample parking is available.

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