Tomiaki “Tom” Okada
December 24, 1940 — March 5, 2021
Tomiaki “Tom” Okada of Rolling Hills passed away peacefully on March 5 in Torrance, surrounded by his loving family, at the age of 80, succumbing to health issues. He was born in Los Angeles on December 24, 1940 to parents, Akira and Shizumi, née Takahashi, Okada. Tom is survived by his wife of 50 years, Nobuko “Nobie,” née Nishi; children, Yosh Okada (Dr. Jackie) and Midori Lammel (Stefan); sisters, Judy Corbett and Patsy Okada; brothers, Herbert and George Okada (Miyo Okubo, PharmD); aunt, Sadako Matsumoto; brothers-in-law, Kay Nishi (Lila) and Hiro Nishi, PharmD (Debbie); sister-in-law, Sumiko Kato Grant (Arnold); four grandchildren, Tristan and Zoe Lammel, Keira and Maya Okada; and numerous cousins, nieces and nephews.
Tom was a year old when he and his family were interned at Santa Anita Race Track, then transferred to Poston, Ariz. for the duration of WWII. After the war, the family moved to Clovis for about two years, then to El Segundo and Manhattan Beach, settling in Torrance in 1951 where they established Okada Nursery. Throughout his youth, he spent many summers in Clovis helping his Takahashi grandparents and uncles on the family farm and orchards, where he enjoyed eating fresh fruits and vegetables. An uncle always said Tommy was very responsible at a young age and drove the tractor well at 11 years old.
Tom was the Student Body President his senior year at North High School and on the wrestling team, graduating in 1958. He attended El Camino College, transferring to USC’s School of Business, graduating in 1962 with a BS degree in Public Accounting. The next day, he left for training with the U.S. Marine Corp Reserve at the Marine Corp Recruit Depot in San Diego. Immediately after boot camp, he was transferred to the Naval Base in Jacksonville, Fla. where he trained in aviation. From there, he was transferred to the Naval Air Station in Willow Grove, Pa. to study electrical aviation. He wrote numerous letters home, reflecting the close bond with his family while sharing many eye-opening experiences. The Cuban Missile Crisis started during the end of his training and his letters commented on the possibility of being called up for war. He was honorably discharged as a Corporal on September 1, 1966.
Tom worked at Arthur Young gaining auditing experience prior to obtaining his CPA license in 1965. He opened his first public accounting practice on Torrance Blvd., before moving to the brand new Del Amo Financial Center in 1968 where he was one of the first five tenants. While building his practice, he taught accounting and math at El Camino College from 1966 until 1978 and also earned his Master’s in Accounting degree from USC in 1969.
On July 19, 1970, Tom and Nobie married, welcoming their son, Yoshio in 1971, followed a year later by daughter, Midori. Nobie joined Tom in the office and together they worked side-by-side. Yosh joined them after graduating with a Public Accounting degree from USC. Anyone who knew Tom, knows how loyal and dedicated he was to his family, friends and business. His clients grew with him and numerous deep friendships formed over five decades. Everyone in his personal and professional circle were well-cared for and respected his knowledge and advice.
Tom worked like no other and never had any plans to retire. He was never one to be the center of attention, yet ironically he hosted a big party for himself to celebrate his first Social Security check in June of 2006.
Tom enjoyed saltwater/freshwater fishing and hunting game birds with his family and friends. As a young adult, he appreciated cool cars and was an active member of various trap shooting clubs: Golden Bears Trap Club in Dominguez Hills, Watson Trap and Skeet Club in Wilmington, International Trap and Skeet Club in Rosemead, and served as the American Trap Association Treasurer in 1969. He also was a member of the California Society of CPAs, Society of California Accountants, National Society of Accountants, Ducks Unlimited, NRA, and an active supporter of Gardena Buddhist Church for many years, serving as Finance Chairman, 2012-2019.
Tom was a devoted Trojan, always looking forward to watching USC football games. And when he was not wearing his button-down shirts, he was proudly wearing his SC hat and shirt. Proud to be the Grandpa to his amazing grandchildren, he experienced tremendous joy when bringing them on his sporting trips. He will be missed by his family, friends and all the lives he touched. His children are forever grateful for his unwavering support and guidance. It is comforting to know he is still working hard crunching numbers on his 10-key, hunting and fishing with his dear friends and his favorite dog Daisy, eating his favorite fruits and his mother’s delicious spaghetti.
We plan to celebrate his remarkable life this summer when it is safer to gather.