GEORGE T. OKAMOTO MUNSTER, IN
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George T. Okamoto, age 89 of Munster, passed away peacefully Thursday, April 25, 2013. He was born in Seattle, WA to Seiji and Yone Okamoto and was raised in the Los Angeles area. George graduated from Santa Ana High School. On the onset of WWII, he and his family were forced into Poston, a Japanese American concentration camp in Arizona, where he lived until volunteering for the U.S. Army. For the duration of WWII, he served with the highly decorated, all Japanese American 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Unit I. Wounded in combat, he received two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star. In 2011, the 442nd RCT received the Congressional Gold Medal. After WWII, George moved to Chicago where he worked as an artist/illustrator. With his partner, Ray London, he first formed the Okamoto/London Studios, and later went into business on his own, creating Studio O. During his 40 year career, he was nominated for three Grammy awards, worked on the "Let's All Go to the Lobby" cartoon, created the smiley face on the Calumet City water tower, did work for Erte, a Mr. Peanut campaign, and illustrated many books. He was a creative artist, loved gardening, and was a devoted husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, uncle, and friend. George leaves behind his loving wife of 63 years, Caryl (Smith); his children: Jill Okamoto (Vincent Filingeri) of NY; Sean Okamoto of WI; Tracy Okamoto (Leah) of Highland, Erin Okamoto Protsman (Robert) of St. John; grandchildren: Angela Filingeri, Casey (Jonyl) Okamoto, Cassie Okamoto, Ian Okamoto, Maxwell Okamoto, Greg (April) Okamoto, Samantha Okamoto, Bridget Protsman, and Matt Protsman; and many siblings, nieces, nephews, and friends. He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, Thomas; sister, Taye; and his oldest son, Kelly. Following cremation, a "Celebration of Life" will be held Monday, May 6, 2013 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at Munster Performing Arts Center. Donations may be made to the family or to the Calumet Area Hospice at 600 Superior Avenue, Munster, IN 46321. George will receive military honors at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date. solanpruzinfuneralhome.com
Published in The Times on Apr. 28, 2013