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Takashi Frank Sugihara


1921 - 2017 Obituary Condolences
Takashi Frank Sugihara Obituary
January 15, 1921 - July 5, 2017 Takashi Frank Sugihara, internationally recognized food research microbiologist and decorated World War II veteran, passed away peacefully at his home in Tustin, CA, on July 5, 2017. He was 96. Frank was born in Los Angeles, CA, on January 15, 1921 to Junichi and Sueno (Sasaki) Sugihara. His college education was interrupted by World War II and his family's relocation to Heart Mountain internment camp in Wyoming. As soon as his 4C (enemy alien) status was lifted, he volunteered to serve in the US Army's 442 Regimental Combat Team (442nd), the Japanese-American Army combat unit, where he received the Bronze Star. He was made an honorary Texan by Governor John Connally in 1962 for rescuing the Lost Texas Battalion. In 2011, along with other surviving veterans of the 442nd, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal in recognition of extraordinary patriotism, courage and selflessness in combat in spite of discrimination and adversity at home. In 2013 he was made a Chevalier in the French Legion of Honor for his role in liberating France from the Nazi occupation. Returning to civilian life after the war, he graduated from USC, majoring in plant physiology. While attending graduate school at UC Berkeley, he met and later married Sumiko Ozawa in 1951. Frank began his career as a research microbiologist for the US Department of Agriculture in Albany, CA. In the lab, he studied techniques for freeze-drying eggs and coffee and developed mushroom flavorings. His nephews still remember being test subjects for freeze-dried eggs on camping trips. The highlight of his career was isolating the bacteria responsible for the unique flavor of San Francisco sourdough bread, which he named Lactobacillus San Francisco. Because of his extensive work in microbiology related to baking, he served as a consultant for Bremner Wafers. He also advised Alemagna-Motta in Milan, Italy for panettonne production and the Shikishima Baking Company in Japan for sourdough bread. He published articles and spoke at universities in Europe and Asia on the fermentation process in the baking industry. Frank is survived by his wife Sumiko, his daughter Corinne, her husband Bruce, his granddaughter Nicole, and his sisters Kazuko and Hideko. He is also survived by his nieces and nephews who remember him fondly. He was preceded in death by his son Michael and sister Masako. His brother Paul just recently passed away. Frank will be laid to rest at the Colma Japanese Cemetery. We cherish the memory of this intelligent, hard-working, yet humble family man.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Aug. 5, 2017
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