Lawson Sakai
1923 - 2020
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Lawson Sakai
Oct. 27, 1923 - Jun. 16, 2020
Resident of Morgan Hill
Lawson Iichiro Sakai, born October 27, 1923 , resident of Morgan Hill, California passed away peacefully on June 16, 2020. Lawson was born and raised in Montebello, California, moved to Colorado for a short time during WWII before enlisting in the army. He served in the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, a segregated unit for Japanese Americans, and earned a Bronze Star,a Purple Heart and a Combat Infantryman Badge for his service during the campaigns in Italy and France. He married Mineko Hirasaki of Gilroy, California on April 8, 1946.
Lawson and Mineko opened their own travel business which they ran until retiring in 1990. Lawson founded the Friends and Family of Nisei Veterans, a non-profit dedicated to preserving the legacy of Japanese American veterans. He was active as a leader of the organization, participating in many reunions and tours to Italy and France as recently as 2019.
He is survived by his children Kenneth (Lynda) Sakai, Joanne Sakai (Dallas Foster), Janet (Noriaki) Ito, and Dennis Sakai (Linda Durrin), grandchildren, Kelly (Francesca) Sakai, Nicholas Sakai, Mika Ito (Byron Yamada), Gaku Ito (Aya Ino), Kisa Ito (Erik Fujinami), Stephen Sakai, Kimberlee Sakai (Morad Alvarez), great-granddaughter Mie Yamada, and many other relatives.
He is predeceased by his wife Mineko Hirasaki Sakai and by sisters Misako (Perry) Sumida and Mieko Sakai.
Private funeral services were held on June 27, 2020 at Gavilan Hills Memorial Park in Gilroy, California. Pending COVID19 restrictions, a memorial service will be scheduled later this year.
For online condolences visit www.habingfamilyfuneralhome.com.


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Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on Jun. 28, 2020.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
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27
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21 entries
July 7, 2020
Lawson was a fine fellow to travel with, to chat with, and to share WWII stories. I will miss him and Mineko! My condolences to the family.
George Knott
Friend
July 7, 2020
It was such an honor to meet and travel with Lawson Sakai and his family. We are so glad to have been able to spend time with both he and his late wife Mineko and their family. God bless Lawson, rest in peace. Love, Margaret, Gaye and Nola Miyasaki
GAYE MIYASAKI
Friend
July 4, 2020
My condolences to family. I so enjoyed meeting Mr Sakai. Meet him and talked to him over the 48 years Ive lived and worked in Morgan Hill. Especially around two occasions, as a Fourth of July Freedom Fest worker and Vets Day. Having been an army brat and Vet myself I appreciated his military service. (My dad and mom are buried at Arlington) A real gentleman. I hope our community realizes what a treasure the 442nd was. Priveliged to have met him. Roger
Roger Bell
Acquaintance
July 2, 2020
2018 Manzanar Pilgrimage
It was an honor to know this man. In 2018, he carried the 442/100th/MIS banner at the Manzanar Pilgrimage. Despite the wind, he proudly declined any help.
Kerry Cababa
Friend
July 2, 2020
Lawson speaking at the Monta Vista High School Vet Bio program
Lawson spoke for the Rotary Club of Cupertinos Veterans Day program last year. He was one of our favorite speakers all year. He also came to speak at our annual Veterans biography program at Monta Vista High School in Cupertino in March. The photo is one we took together that day.

Over the years, Id heard about Lawson and read so many articles about him. I am sad that I had only gotten to know him more personally in the last year, but feel so fortunate to have had the honor to meet him. He was such a treasure and I will truly miss him.

I, and also on behalf of the Rotary Club of Cupertino, would like to send deepest condolences to the Lawson Sakai Family.

With Sympathy,
Alysa Sakkas
Alysa Sakkas
Friend
July 1, 2020
I never had the honor of meeting Lawson but I feel a strong connection since my father also served in the 44nd RCT. Peace be with you and your family Lawson and thank you for the inconceivable sacrifice you and your fellow 44nd RCT soldiers gave this country. You made it a better place for me and all Japanese-Americans who live here and call this our country. RIP.
Michael Fujita
June 30, 2020
Our deepest condolences to the Sakai Family. My father, Wesley Koyano was honored to be a part of the WWII veterans that visited the White House in Washington DC in 2016. Lawson was a delight and an admirable man. May you have peace in this difficult time.
Duane Koyano
Acquaintance
June 30, 2020
An incredible man with an incredible life and an incredible heart. Many blessings and much love to his family and many friends ❤
Penny
June 29, 2020
Lawson was a wonderful human being. He will always be in our thoughts. Great in peace with Mineko.
Sue and Joe Smith
Friend
June 29, 2020
You will be missed. We loved the times spent with you and Mineko. Y'all are special. Our trip to France will always be a wonderful memory.
Darlene and George Hirasaki
Family
June 28, 2020
In honor of the life and legacy of our friend, Lawson Sakai.
Maureen Griswold
Friend
June 28, 2020
Deepest condolences to the Sakai Family from the Griswold's. Lawson was such a dear and inspiring friend over the years. It was a privilege to know Lawson and to behold his work for our country to remember and honor our WWII Nisei Veterans and the 442nd Regiment. Lawson's absolutely unforgettable and will always be remembered so fondly.
Maureen Griswold
Friend
June 28, 2020
What a great friend, leader and role model. Lawson was dedicated to service, eternally optimistic and quick to laughall wonderful attributes. There May never be another Lawson. He will be missed and not forgotten.
Tom and Becky Graves
Friend
June 26, 2020
Jeff Ogawa and Lawson Sakai Cupertino High School 4 24 18
I want to extend my condolences to the Sakai family. I remember Lawson and Mineko and their children when I grew up in Gilroy. They were good friends with my parents Marianne and Isao Ogawa. I have followed Lawson's exploits as a speaker as I grew up, and I got the chance to hear him and meet with him when he spoke at Cupertino High School in 2018. It was a pleasure and an honor.
Jeffrey Ogawa
Friend
June 26, 2020
My sincerest condolences on the loss of your Dad, grandfather and great grandfather. I had the pleasure of working for Lawson and Mineko at LSA Travel from 1982 until 1986. Lawson took a chance and hired me right out of travel school, for which I will always be so very grateful. I have such fond memories of both your parents and those 4 1/2 years at their agency that I will always hold dear. May your memories give you comfort in the days ahead.
Jill and Joe Chouinard
Coworker
June 26, 2020
My Condolences to the Sakai Family...proud to know Mr Sakai...
Joe Zertuche
Friend
June 26, 2020
Our deepest condolences to the family of Lawson from the Rose Bayuga family.
Patricia Kutzer
Friend
June 26, 2020
In loving memory of a wonderful person. We will love you and miss you always.
Peggy Soda
Friend
June 25, 2020
Ken, my heartfelt sympathy to you and your family. Sincerely Loretta ( Piedmont) Ventura ♥
Loretta Ventura
Friend
June 25, 2020
Lawson, Rest In Peace I came to know you through the Hirasaki family. I went to school with Midori, Bobby and my good friend Shinobu. You booked many trips to Hawaii for me and my family through your LSA travel agency. You were also my mentor when I opened my auto parts business. I'll miss you Joe Serrato
Joe Serrato
Friend
June 25, 2020
Kenny, so sorry to hear about your Dad. Heartfelt condolences to you and your entire family. Shirley
Shirley Marrazzo Currie
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