Robert S. Horii
June 13, 1931 – January 25, 2021
Robert “Bob” Horii passed away peacefully of natural causes on January 25 surrounded by family in his home in Gardena, Calif. He was born in Redondo Beach, Calif. on June 13, 1931, the youngest son of Rikimatsu and Konobu Horii from Hiroshima, Japan. He was raised on a farm in Redondo Beach along with his sisters Helen, Louise, and Mary, and his brothers George, Howard, Jim, and Harry. At the age of 11, his family, along with others of Japanese ancestry on the West Coast, was relocated. The family was first sent to the horse stables at the Santa Anita Race Track, and then relocated to the Gila River Internment Camp in Arizona for the duration of WWII.
At the end of the war, Bob together with his brother Harry went to Chicago to disassemble greenhouses to be shipped back to California for nursery businesses. After returning to California, Bob continued his high school education and graduated from Redondo Beach High School. After high school, Bob worked the early morning flower market runs for the San Lorenzo Nursery and attended El Camino College in the afternoon. He then transferred to UCLA and completed a B.S. degree in civil engineering in 1953.
Bob served in the Army Corp of Engineers during the Korean War, then resumed what was to be a 43-year career in the City of Los Angeles Bureau of Engineering. Bob would eventually become the first Asian American to head the Bureau of Engineering and its half billion dollar budget and 1,400 professionals when he was appointed as the City of Los Angeles City Engineer from 1985 to 1996. A large part of his career with the City was spent on improving the City’s wastewater treatment program, along with other major projects such as the L.A. Convention Center expansion, the Central Library reconstruction and the City Hall seismic retrofit. He was always grateful to have been given the opportunity to work with great, dedicated people who shared his love for the City of Los Angeles.
Bob was an avid golfer, photographer and in his retirement prided himself as an “over-degreed” handyman. He was active in many civic organizations in the Japanese American community and was past president of the Gardena Evening Optimist Club and the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute. Bob will always be remembered for his warm kindness, generosity with sharing his knowledge and time, his sharp sense of humor, strong character and his engineering precision in everything he did.
Bob is survived by his wife of 61 years, Mary; as well as two sons, Dwayne (Galena) and Brian (Thea); four grandchildren, Veronica and Ross Miller and Rina and Kevin Horii; as well as many nieces, nephews, grand nieces and nephews. He is also survived by his sister, Louise Kawamoto, and brother, Harry Horii. A Celebration of Life will be held on a later date. The family suggests that in lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute.
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