November 13, 1916 ~ December 10, 2007
Shimasaki, Ira, resident of Torrance, CA for over 20 years, died on Monday, December 10th at age 91.
Born in Lindsay, CA on November 13, 1916, Ira grew up in a farming community with his parents, who came from Japan, and his 7 brothers and sisters.
On December 7, 1941, Ira was flying above the skies in central California working on finalizing his solo hours to complete his private pilot's license. After Pearl Harbor, he never flew again.
In the spring of 1942, Ira, a U.S. citizen, and his family were required to leave their home and they were relocated to an internment camp for Japanese American families in Jerome Arkansas.
Ira left camp and moved to Michigan to work in September of 1944. He was drafted into the Army and served in Germany as a MP from September of 1945 through the winter of 1946. Upon his return to the U.S. in 1946 up through 1979, Ira worked in Bethesda, Maryland, just outside Washington, DC as foreman of a automobile body shop specializing in Rolls Royce and Pontiacs.
For 30 years beginning in 1948 until he relocated to southern California, Ira was the Permanent Chairman of the Japanese American Citizens League Arlington Cemetery Committee, organizing and presenting yearly services on behalf of all Nisei soldiers and especially those buried in Arlington Cemetery, including many members of the 442nd RCT. He also served many years as the Eastern District Governor. In his capacity with JACL, Ira worked closely with Mike Masaoka and others to establish the only non-governmental, non-veteran group memorial services to honor the Nisei veterans.
Ira is survived by six of his brothers and sisters, Atsuko, Fred, Sam, Rinko, Walt and Joe; his children Don, Sandi (Bill) Kitzes; and Susan (Don) Liebson and grandchildren, Justin, Dana, Kevin, Brian and Jason. Ira's beloved wife Gladys (Onoye) passed away seven years ago and his brother Tom passed away in 1989.
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