Shoji Horikoshi

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Shoji Horikoshi

Shoji Horikoshi was born Nov. 5, 1926 to Seijiro and Mitsu Horikoshi in San Francisco. Shoji passed away July 16, 2013 after a valiant 5-month battle with cancer. Those who know Shoji will not be surprised to know he was upbeat and optimistic throughout his fight with cancer.


Shoji was a Boy Scout and attended Raphael Weill Elementary, then Roosevelt Junior High when World War II began.


During World War II, Shoji was interned in the Tanforan Racetrack Center Stables for 8 months. Then he and his family were sent to Topaz Relocation Center in Utah. Topaz was named for a local mountain when the local residents of Delta, Utah refused to allow the use of their town as the name of a "prison for the innocent." The four members of Shoji's family lived in a single small room in the camp. Shoji later said the camps made him keenly aware of civil rights and the need to protect them in our country.


Shoji left the camp to work at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He enlisted in the Army in 1945 and served in Europe with the occupation forces. After graduating from UC Berkeley in 1953, majoring in Criminalistics, he got a job at Macy's working in the warehouse. Shoji said, "You do the best you can under the circumstances."


In 1955 he got an entry level job with the San Francisco Police Crime Lab, and would rise through the ranks until he was appointed Director of the Lab. He stayed in that position through a dozen chiefs of police, working for 38 years for the police dept. Shoji was a renowned forensics expert who lectured at the FBI Academy in Virginia. Although technically a civilian employee, Shoji's position within the SFPD was equivalent to that of a police captain. The San Francisco Police Crime Lab at Hunter's Pt. was named "The Shoji Horikoshi Crime Laboratory." This lab was considered state of the art with the AFIS fingerprint computer, DNA testing capability, and electron microscopes.


He was also active in the SFPD's Asian Police Officers' Association and was one of the founding members and later President of the Northern California Asian Peace Officers' Association. His colleagues say that he was a mentor, role model, and friend to generations of Bay Area law-enforcement officers. When Shoji retired from the SFPD, the main ballroom of the Hyatt Regency in San Francisco was packed with friends, colleagues, and dignitaries to honor his service to the SFPD, City and County of San Francisco, and for his ongoing work in the community.


After he retired, Shoji joined the Kimochi Board of Directors in 1997 and was Chair from 2000-2006. He also served as Chair of the Budget/Finance Committee. In 2010, Shoji received the Kimochi Spirit Award to recognize his community spirit, longevity, and continued heartfelt "kimochi." He remained an active member of the Board until his passing. In addition to supporting Kimochi, Shoji served as a leader with the Northern California Asian Police Officers' Association, Nisei Voters League, California Association of Criminologists, and California Association of Crime Laboratory Directors.


Preceded in death by his siblings Akira, Shuichi, Asa, and Hiroshi, Shoji is survived by nieces Patricia Cochrane and Ann Mayeda, and nephews Brian Horikoshi and Carl Horikoshi.


Shoji's childhood was marred by racism and injustice, but he took an optimistic view of an imperfect world. He worked to make the world a better place than he found it. He had a passion for community service and a deep love of San Francisco and his many friends here. Shoji left many lives that are better for knowing him, and his memory brings smiles to all who knew him. We should all be so blessed to have lived such a life.


Per Shoji's wishes, no service will be held. Remembrances can be made to his favorite charity, Kimochi, Inc., 1715 Buchanan Street, San Francisco, CA 94115.

Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Aug. 16 to Aug. 18, 2013
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