Masao Thomas Inada was a man who met each challenge with a calm, dignified and accepting presence which he carried with him even in his last days. His presence in turn was a gift he shared with his family, friends, and all those that knew him for his nearly 101 years. Masao, called “Hiji” by his great grandchildren, considered his family one of his greatest accomplishments and he always let his family know how much he loved them through letters, conversations over walks and card games, working the shave ice machine, meals he cooked, gifts, and his constant support.
Masao was an artist who created a wide variety of work including renderings for Little Lulu cartoons, cherished watercolor cards, charcoal sketches made during his internment at Tule Lake, and oil paintings that hang in his family’s homes and at Sycamore Congregational Church in El Cerrito. He was a loving and dedicated husband to Yoshiko Pat Inada with whom he bowled, traveled, and spent a happy 53 years of marriage before her passing.
Masao was born and raised in Sacramento, California with his parents, three sisters and three brothers. He attended Japanese school and helped out in his father’s fish market and soda fountain. After internment, he was drafted into US Military, where he was picked from basic training during World War II to work for the US Army Military Intelligence. During his time away, he and Yoshiko fell in love through letters and decided to get married. They lived in Chicago, Illinois, and had their first son, David. The family eventually moved back to the West Coast and lived in Berkeley, California where they had their second son, Rick. Masao and Yoshiko finally purchased a home and settled in El Cerrito, where they enjoyed their growing family with the addition of 4 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.
In retirement he always stayed active, including becoming an avid golfer who play several rounds a week at Tilden Golf Course. Oftentimes Masao and his son David and would be the first ones on the greens, carrying their clubs the whole course. In addition to golf, Masao was an active member of the Go Go’s Bowling Club, Sakurai Kai, Sycamore Congregational Church, and
enjoyed playing cards and traveling with his family.
Masao brought kindness, generosity, quiet honesty and humbleness to every situation he met. He was always ready to work hard, whether it was delivering 100lbs bags of rice as a child for his familyʻs business, or carrying heavy tables at the church bazaar well into his 90s. He was often asked the secret to his long life and health, and he had different answers through the years – good genes, staying active, eating healthy – all which definitely contributed. Those who love him know that it was also his strong heart, and unique ability to accept each moment and thrive that contributed to his 100 years. He will be deeply missed.