Lloyd Hitt

By KYOKO NANCY ODA

Tuna Canyon board member Ernie Nishii wrote, “Life is impermanent — but his legacy will always be with us, with people who may not remember his name but will know his impact.”

Korean War combat veteran Lloyd Hitt promised while fighting on Pork Chop Hill that if he was spared he would work hard for good causes. Fortunately for us, he survived.

After the war, Lloyd graduated from USC with a Pharm.D (Doctor of Pharmacy) in 1959. He then worked at Hober’s Pharmacy in Sunland as chief pharmacist and store manager until his retirement in 1995.

Lloyd then noticed that the local historical society and Bolton Hall Museum needed help, so he volunteered. He was successfully involved in many local community affairs as well as a poetry and writing group. In addition, Lloyd was an influential charter member of the Land Use Committee of the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council, which originally met at Bolton Hall.

Lloyd became president of the historical society and served in this capacity for over 10 years. During that time he participated in many of its functions and events. He was involved in getting several local historical sites designated as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monuments, including the Weatherwolde Castle, Blarney Castle, and the Stonehurst neighborhood of rock houses in Sun Valley, which became a Los Angeles Historic Preservation Overlay Zone.

Starting in 2006 with Paul Tsuneishi and the Japanese American community, Lloyd spent more than 10 years compiling information and advocating for the Tuna Canyon Detention Station site. A critical contact was made with David Scott, grandson of Tuna Canyon’s Officer-in-Charge Merrill H. Scott, who had numerous rare photos of this detention station. These photos became an integral part of the Tuna Canyon Detention Station Coalition’s traveling exhibit.

Lloyd personally guided people through this exhibit when it was at Bolton Hall in the summer of 2016. He also participated in the 2017 Manzanar Pilgrimage.

Lloyd once said, “Of the many community projects I have championed over the years, to be involved with the Tuna Canyon exhibit, ‘Only the Oaks Remain,’ has been the most important project for me as it relates to the past, present, and the future. The exhibit represents years of preparation by people of a wide range of talents, races, and ethnicities with a goal to determine what happened at the WWII Tuna Canyon camp and more important to educate and remind the American public that this must never happen again.

“The timing is perfect with the world in its current state as people are divided over race and religion. The exhibit reminds us how a few racists coming together can spread fear that affects the outcome of how a nation responds to war in a time of crisis and fear. The tribal barriers have to come down for lasting peace.”

Lloyd wanted to  protect the Tuna Canyon Detention Station (TCDS) from disappearing into obscurity. Despite a lukewarm response to his initial outreach efforts, he worked with Los Angeles city committees and officials to obtain official recognition for the Tuna Canyon site. Eventually he and a broad coalition of local and Japanese American activists supported then-Councilman Richard Alarcon and the Los Angeles City Council, who voted to preserve one acre with oak trees of the Tuna Canyon site as Historic-Cultural Monument No. 1039.

As Tuna Canyon board member Dr. Russell Endo said, “One of our guiding lights and sources of inspiration has passed. “

Tuna Canyon will remind us that civil rights are only as strong as those who have fought to protect them. The Japanese, German, and Italian immigrants and hostages from Latin America who passed through Tuna Canyon in violation of their rights cannot be ignored any longer.

A service for Lloyd will be held on Saturday, Nov. 19, 10 a.m., at the New Hope Church, 10438 Oro Vista, Sunland. There will be a reception and “sharing” afterward.

Please contact Kyoko Nancy Oda at remembertunacanyon @gmail.com for additional information.

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