Los Angeles: Philanthropist Sakaye Aratani passed at 104 on March 18


Philanthropist Sakaye Aratani (Source: Keiro Inc. 2022)

Philanthropist Sakaye Aratani passed away at 104 on March 18, 2024. The Japanese American National Museum issued the following statement:

LOS ANGELES, CA (April 2) – The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) mourns Sakaye Aratani, who passed away on March 18, 2024. Aratani grew up in Gardena, where her parents ran a chicken farm. When Pearl Harbor was bombed, her family lived with relatives in Reedley, California before being forcibly removed to the Poston concentration camp in Arizona. While visiting another camp she met her future husband, George, and they married in Minneapolis, Minnesota, while he was serving in the Military Intelligence Service. After leaving camp, Sakaye and George returned to the Los Angeles area, raised a family, and supported many Japanese American institutions in Southern California.

Sakaye was a founding member of the Montebello Japanese Women’s Club, and was one of the first women to serve on the board of the Sumitomo Bank of California. George was a member of JANM’s founding board of directors. He went on to serve on the JANM Board of Trustees (1990–2004) and JANM Board of Governors (2005–2013). Through the Aratani Family Foundation, they were generous patrons of all the foundational institutions and organizations who made a significant impact in Los Angeles’s Little Tokyo and across Southern California. Since 1993, they have supported JANM through the Museum’s annual dinner, ongoing programs, and general operations.

“It’s with great sadness that we mourn the loss of an extraordinary woman whose impact touched generations. Sakaye’s grace, humility, and compassion were an example to all. One of her family’s many contributions to JANM includes supporting our mission and naming the Museum’s Aratani Central Hall which hosts numerous gatherings for the Japanese American and wider community. We and the whole Japanese American community will always treasure her thoughtfulness, elegance, and largess,” said William T Fujioka, chair of the JANM Board of Trustees.

Densho Digital Repository https://ddr.densho.org/narrators/887/