January 4, 1924 – August 16, 2021
Thomas Masato Karasawa, 97, longtime resident of Palos Verdes, Calif., passed away peacefully in his home surrounded by loved ones on August 16, 2021. Masato was a beloved husband, father, grandfather and uncle, who will always be remembered for his dapper style, sly humor, and talents as a vocalist and draftsman.
Thomas was a Nisei, born in San Diego, Calif. as one of four children to parents Kesao and Chizuko Karasawa. In 1942, during World War II, Thomas (16) and his family were forcibly evacuated from their home and incarcerated in a Poston, Ariz. concentration camp as part of Executive Order 9066, under President Roosevelt. After his release, he became a U.S. veteran of the Korean War. Thomas returned to Los Angeles, taking work as a tailor. He was also a popular vocalist in the JA circuit, and sang at LA nightclubs and events in the 50’s, sometimes with the notable Tak Shindo Band.
He eventually met his wife, Yaye Marumoto, when he was the featured entertainer for the Nisei Week Queen competition in 1953, and she was a stunning finalist in the Queen’s court. A striking and charismatic couple, they married in 1956, and bought former artist Sueo Serisawa’s home in Mt. Washington, which was featured in the Los Angeles Times in 1966. Thomas enjoyed a long and distinguished career as a draftsman for such commercial architecture firms as Kistner, Wright & Wright, and Kenneth S. Wing & Associates. He was exceptionally enthusiastic about his children’s interests, often photographing or making Super-8 films of their soccer games, talent-show exploits, and hobbies. Thomas was also an avid painter, and a proud custodian to the family’s succession of rescue dogs. He was a fitness enthusiast, who loved a chilled martini. He remained passionate about singing, recording and distributing his own albums to friends and family well into his late 80’s, proudly amassing folders full of fan mail. His dedication to yoga in the last 20 years of his life was proudly reflected in his personalized license plate, “YOGEEZER.”
He is survived by his wife, Yaye; son, Joel; daughter, Chiemi; granddaughter, Kahili; grandson, Elliot. Many nieces, nephews and family in the U.S. and overseas. He was predeceased by his siblings: Robert Kesato Karasawa, Helen Chiyoko Umekubo, Richard “Babe” Karasawa, and spouses Fumi Karasawa and Robert Umekubo.
A memorial service, officiated by Rev. Gary Oba will be held on September 4 at 11:30 a.m. at Green Hills Memorial Park, 27501 S. Western Avenue, Rancho Palos Verdes.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to be made to the Alzheimer’s Association (www.alz.org) or North Central Animal Shelter (www.laanimalservices.com).