Sunday, February 25, 2018

Frank Ogawa (1917-1994): First Japanese-American on Oakland City Council

Frank Ogawa
Outside Garden Mausoleum II, Wall #299 #4

Frank Hirao Ogawa was a civil rights leader and the first Japanese American to serve on the Oakland City Council, where he served from 1966 until his death in 1994. Ogawa was a Republican, but never held any partisan office.

Upon his death, the Oakland City Council voted unanimously to rename City Hall Plaza in his honor as Frank H. Ogawa Plaza. The plaza displays a bronze bust of Ogawa. 

A Nisei, Ogawa was born in Lodi, California and never lived in Japan. Nevertheless, as Japanese Americans, Ogawa's family members were involuntarily relocated by the U.S. government to the Topaz War Relocation Center in Millard County, Utah; they were detained there for the duration of World War II. Ogawa married Grace Ogawa (née Hiruma) prior to their wartime detention and they had two children, Alan and Nancy. Nancy was born in the Topaz War Relocation Center but died at age 2.

Burial site of Ogawa family
After the war, Ogawa returned to Oakland where he found work as a gardener. Eventually, he borrowed and saved enough money to open his own nursery.

Ogawa was a member of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) from 1972 to 1988, having been appointed to the Commission by the Association of Bay Area Governments. Ogawa served on the Bay Area Air Quality Management District Board of Directors from 1979 until 1992 when he had to retire from the Board because of health issues. He served as Chairman of the Board during most of 1987 and served as Chair and Vice-Chair of the Board's Executive Committee and Personnel Committee.

More than 600 people, including a representative of Oakland's sister city of Fukuoka, Japan, attended Ogawa's memorial service. 

[Reprinted from Wikipedia - edited]