April 26, 1929 — March 22, 2023

Wilbur Sato passed away peacefully on March 22, 2023, after a three-year battle with Alzheimer’s.

Born on April 26, 1929, in Pasadena, Calif., Wilbur spent his grade school years on Terminal Island, was interned with family in Manzanar, and later graduated from Dorsey High School and UCLA.

Wilbur married Rosie Yoshida in 1951 and had two children, Naomi and Emerson. While working as a shop steward Wilbur became aware of labor management issues affecting the workplace and capped his interest in law and worker rights by graduating with honors from the University of Denver law school in 1959. Returning to Los Angeles, Wilbur practiced law and became extensively involved in leadership positions with the JACL, the Gardena Valley Democratic Club, L.A. Southwest Japanese Credit Union, numerous political campaigns and organizations advocating for labor, immigrant rights and redress such as NCRR, APALA, UTLA, AFL-CIO, and the Manzanar Committee.

Wilbur retired from the law in 1982 but continued his political activism while owning several businesses and teaching ESL classes to immigrants at the Stevenson School. Generous with his time, he read classic literature and poetry to his students and encouraged them to become U.S. citizens and active participants in making a better world.

Rosie passed away in 2003. Wilbur married his high school classmate Mary Matsushita in 2005. Tragically, Mary passed away in 2007 and thereafter Wilbur never remarried. Wilbur enjoyed reading and writing poetry, photography, participating in educating high school students about the internment of Japanese Americans, and loved discussing politics with his many friends.

His funeral was an immediate family-only affair held on April 21 at Fukui Mortuary.

Wilbur is survived by his children and their spouses, 5 grandchildren, and 7 great-grandchildren.

He was grateful for the many friendships and acquaintances formed over his long life.

The family asks that any memorial contributions in Wilbur’s name be made to NCRR, the Japanese American National Museum, the Manzanar Committee, and other similar organizations.

Anyone wishing to send condolences may do so by emailing: satowilbur@gmail.com

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