Sunday, April 6, 2014

Dr. Frank Kitamoto – A Celebration of Life

Frank Kitamoto, or "Dr. Frank," as I liked to call him, was among the first group of more than 100 people I photographed for the Minidoka book. My friend, Mary Cronin, came with me that day, Aug. 8, 2002. Mary grew up on Bainbridge Island and Dr. Kitamoto was her dentist. I had never met him before and she hadn't seen him in years after moving to Seattle. He warmly welcomed both of us into his home.

Frank Kitamoto was also among the first group of Japanese and Japanese Americans to be forcibly removed from their Bainbridge Island homes. His father, an Issei or first generation immigrant from Japan, had been arrested earlier and transported to Fort Missoula in Montana. Frank's mother cared for him and his three young sisters. On March 30, 1942 they marched down the Eaglesdale Ferry Dock under military guard and were sent to Manzanar War Relocation Center in California. The family later transferred to the Minidoka War Relocation Center in Idaho.

Sadly, many of the people I photographed for the Minidoka book have passed away. But I wanted to single out Frank because he started a conversation early on and kept it going - that it is important to remember what happened. He was instrumental in memorializing the ferry dock landing which is now part of the National Park Service's Minidoka National Historic Site among many other accomplishments.

A short clip of Frank's oral history by DENSHO can be seen here:

A "Celebration of Life" was held today, Sun. April 6, at Woodward Middle School on Bainbridge Island. The announcement noted: "Guests can dress casually, and because Frank was an avid University of Washington Huskies football fan and loved his trips to Hawaii, people are invited to wear purple and gold or Hawaiian attire."

Mahalo, Frank.

Dr. Frank Kitamoto – May 28, 1939 to March 15, 2014

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