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Arthur Yamada

Arthur Satoshi (Tosh) Yamada

Jan. 3, 1937 - Jun. 7, 2013


Resident of Berkeley, CA


It is with deep sadness that the family of Arthur Satoshi (Tosh) Yamada announces his death in Berkeley, California on June 7, 2013 at age 76. He was a multi-talented, generous-hearted man who made an impression on everyone he met. He died at home under hospice care after suffering acute kidney failure. He was able to enjoy the last afternoon of his life in the presence of friends and family and his much loved cat Cassiopeia before slipping away between one breath and the next the morning of Friday, June 7th. A private bedside Buddhist service was conducted by Rev. David Matsumoto of the Berkeley Buddhist Temple on Saturday, June 8th.


Tosh was born on January 3, 1937 in Salinas, California; his childhood was spent in Denver, Colorado during World War II, and then in Los Angeles, California after the war. Tosh went to Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1957 to help support his younger siblings when his father, an automobile body and fender man then in his 60s, hurt his back and his oldest sister was asked to care for them. He was drafted into the Army in 1961 and served the majority of his time at the Edgewood Arsenal of the US Army Chemical Corps near Baltimore, Maryland until discharged in 1963. Upon his discharge, he returned to Milwaukee where he met his wife Peg in November 1963.


Tosh spent his working life as a design engineer. He described himself as an opto-electro-mechanical design engineer since most of his career he worked on packaging the innards of telescopes, medical and optometric equipment, and vacuum coating equipment. He started out as a draftsman at the AC Spark Plug Division of General Motors in Oak Creek, Wisconsin in 1957. After moving to California in 1966, he worked at Tinsley Laboratories, Humphrey Instruments, and Temescal Division of BOC.


But his heart really belonged in the arts and in 1994 he quit work as a design engineer to follow his dream of working with his hands-either in pottery, or wood working, or jewelry. He was already a potter, having learned the craft under the tutelage of Abe Cohn in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and honing his skills in the late 1960s at California State University San Francisco, and in the 1990s at the Potter's Studio in Berkeley, California. He always described himself as a craftsman, not an artist. He was both.


Tosh is preceded in death by his father, Masayuki Yamada, who died of a stroke at age 75 while on a visit to Japan in late 1963, and his mother, Yoneko (aka Chiyo) Ito Yamada, who died in Berkeley, California in 1994 at age 87. He is survived by his wife of 48 years, Margaret (Peg) Yamada (neé Stuempges); his oldest sister Lillian Kei Miake in Berkeley; his older brother Benjamin Akira Yamada in New Berlin, Wisconsin, his younger brother Takashi Yamada in Wilmette, Illinois, and his younger sisters Nobuko Yamada and Tayeko Yamada and Tai's husband Doug Jackson in Berkeley. He is also survived by nephew Gen Miake in Yorba Linda, California, and nieces Ryn Miake-Lye in Lexington, Massachusetts, Mie (Miake) Neumann in Colgate, Wisconsin, Roberta Yamada in Eden Prairie, Minnesota, Kyoko Yamada Jackson in Berkeley, California.


Tosh will be much missed. He had a way of connecting with people, even those met casually in the course of conducting routine errands, that made him instantly memorable.


Donations may be made to the California Vipassana Center, P.O. Box 1167, North Fork, CA 93643. Please note that any donation must inude the statement "in memory of Arthur Satoshi Yamada."

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Published in San Francisco Chronicle on June 16, 2013
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