The Japanese American National Museum (JANM) is deeply saddened by the passing of R. Thomas Decker, a former member of the JANM Board of Trustees. He passed away from pancreatic cancer on Oct. 26, 2022.
Decker grew up in Sausalito, Calif., and graduated from Stanford University in 1958 with a BA degree in economics and history. He served as an officer in the U.S. Navy for three years and began his career in the financial services sector in 1964. In 1972, he founded Wells Fargo Leasing Corporation and in 1987 he joined Bank of America. He oversaw all corporate banking in the U.S. and Canada, as well as private sector lending in Latin America.
In 1992, he transferred to Los Angeles and concluded his career in 2000, retiring as executive vice president of Bank of America.
He was passionate about the Japanese American community, serving on the JANM Board of Trustees from 1993-2013. In 2013, he received the Kunsho medal award, Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon. The award is bestowed upon a select few by the emperor of Japan for outstanding service and contributions to bridge U.S.-Japan relations.
“We are very sad to hear that Tom has passed away. He contributed greatly to the growth of the museum in its formative years. He brought rigor to our governance practices and financial oversight and was pivotal in securing corporate support for JANM. His many friends of long standing in the Japanese American community will miss him greatly,” said Bill Fujioka, chairman of the JANM Board of Trustees.
I sailed with Tom and his son, Jim, back in the ’70s. Great guy, lots of forward momentum in his spirit. Will be missed.