Randall Craig Sumimoto
Resident of San Jose
Randall Craig Sumimoto was a loving and loyal son, brother, friend, sports fan and gifted Hall-of-Fame journalist who served as an assistant sports editor at the Mercury News and The Bay Area News Group. With all things, he was witty, dedicated and selfless.
Sumimoto died June 20 after an extended battle with colon cancer. He was 50.
"I said I wanted to make 50 years old — and I did it," Sumimoto said, smiling, in early June. He also wanted to see his Warriors win another NBA championship. Golden State's games had become a source of joy for Sumimoto during his extended illness. In fact, when Brian Shibayama, Sumimoto's cousin, woke him to give him his medications on the night the Warriors beat Cleveland for the NBA title, Randall woke.
He asked: "Who won?"
Brian was stunned silent by the unexpected question.
"Who won?" Randall repeated, raising his hand to shoot an imaginary basketball. The cousins celebrated the good news. Four days later, Sumimoto passed.
Shibayama said: "I truly believe he was waiting for the Warriors championship."
Sumimoto was preceded in death by his parents, Mac and Fusa. He is survived by his brother, Jeff, numerous cousins, aunts and uncles. Also, countless friends who knew him as "Randy."
He was born in Chicago. Sumimoto's family moved to San Jose when he was still an infant. He was a collector of baseball cards, comic books and was an avid musician who played the accordion in his youth. In addition to rooting for the Warriors, he was a die-hard A's and Raiders fan, and had excellent taste in movies ("The Godfather" and "Rocky") and music (Joe Bonamassa and Styx). He was a graduate of Leigh High School (1983) and California State University, Chico (1989).
Sumimoto's first newspaper experience came as a student in Chico at The Orion, the college newspaper. He rose to the position of editor-in-chief and after graduation became an award-winning sports writer and editor at the Colusa County Sun-Herald, Hanford Sentinel, Gilroy Dispatch, Fresno Bee, Mercury News and The Bay Area News Group.
"Randy was a multi-talented journalist long before the term came into being," said Bud Geracie, the Executive Sports Editor for The Bay Area News Group. "He could do it all — edit, design, write — and he'd kindly share his know-how with anybody in need. There was no greater teammate ever. Randy worked up until his final few weeks not always because he wanted to, but because he always wanted to help."
Tim Kawakami, columnist for the Bay Area News Group said of Sumimoto's editing talent: "Best words a deadline writer could hear, 'Randy's got your story.'"
Some of what even his closest friends and family read and heard about Sumimoto after his passing may come as a surprise, as he never boasted or bragged about himself. For example, even Sumimoto's closest friends and colleagues in the newspaper industry were unaware that he was inducted in 2007 into the Journalism Hall of Fame at his alma mater. Also, years earlier Sumimoto once successfully batted in 12 straight DDD-League softball games, hitting a league-leading .750 for the season on a team that posted an 1-11 record.
Found among Sumimoto's belongings after his passing was the softball — commemorating not the batting championship, but the lone team victory from that season.
Sumimoto was always quick with a joke, especially when people around him needed to hear one. He was a wonderful storyteller and a gentle soul. He was tactful, generous and humble. His hospice caregiver called Sumimoto, "One of the most dignified people," she ever met.
This will surprise no one who knew him.
A celebration of Randall's life will be held Saturday, Aug. 1, at Darling-Fischer in Los Gatos. The service will begin at 11 a.m, with a reception to follow nearby at Double-D's Sports Grille, one of Randy's favorite hangouts. Attire is whatever you choose to wear. Team gear -- Warriors, A's, or Raiders -- isn't merely approved but strongly encouraged by the family.
Published in San Jose Mercury News/San Mateo County Times on Jul. 12, 2015.