June 25, 1924 – February 24, 2022
Hayao ‘Hy’ Shishino passed away on February 24, 2022, at the age of 97. He is now at rest with his beloved wife, Mitzi.
Hy was born June 25, 1924, in Los Angeles, the second of four children. He grew up helping in the family flower shop until the family was evacuated to the Santa Anita Assembly Center, weeks before his 1942 Los Angeles High School graduation. The principal’s refusal to award 15 Nisei students their diplomas remained one of Hy’s biggest heartaches. Thanks to then school district board member Warren Furutani, it was remedied in 1989 in a special graduation ceremony with 11 of his former classmates.
Hy’s family was sent to the Gila River War Relocation Center in Arizona. Hy left Gila as soon as he could with a train ticket to Minneapolis and $25 in his pocket. He found a job at a summer resort and later, worked at the Radisson Hotel as a prep chef. In 1945 and 1946, his older brother and father passed away. Hy returned to Los Angeles and supported his mother and younger brother, Takao. Hy continued to work in the restaurant industry until his retirement.
Hy enjoyed a wonderful retirement life when he became involved in the Southeast Japanese School and Community Center (SEJSCC). Hy cooked for various SEJSCC events and served ten years as president. He and Mitzi enjoyed activities with the Dance Club and Senior Club, traveling, and going to Vegas.
Hy worked to ensure the Japanese American WWII incarceration story was not forgotten. As president of the Gila Camp Reunion Committee, he helped plan five reunions. He worked with the JACL Arizona Chapter, the Gila Camp Reunion Committee, Claire Mix, and fellow co-producers, Charlie Class and Ben Tonooka, to raise funds to film the nonprofit documentary, Gila River and Mama: The Ruth Mix Story.
Hy especially loved watching his grandchildren play basketball and enjoyed cooking for family gatherings.
Hy is predeceased by his wife, Mitzi; his brothers, Johnny, Takao; and sister, Masako. He is survived by his daughters, Kathy (David) Cataldo, Janet (Joe) Okimoto; his son, Rob (Roxie) Shishino; his grandchildren, Mari Cataldo (Chris Barkley), Ryan, and Matthew Cataldo, Jillian and Jenna Okimoto, Christa and Daniel Shishino; his sisters-in-law, Helen Shishino, Tomoko Ryozaki, and Tomi Hamano of Massechusetts, as well as many cousins, nieces, and nephews.
No memorial services will be held. Please remember Hy in your own special way. In lieu of flowers or koden, please consider a donation to his beloved SEJSCC (Southeast Japanese School and Community Center).
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