Pete Hironaka, a former artist for the Dayton Daily News who also also spent more than 42 years as an editorial cartoonist for “Pacific Citizen,” a national newspaper circulated among the Asian American community, passed away March 25 at the age of 87. The Kettering resident was also a commercial artist for E.F. MacDonald and a number of other Dayton-area companies and advertising agencies.
“He had a great sense of humor, and he was an editorial cartoonist so he was always attuned to current events and how they related to his own beliefs,” said his son, Stan, who lives in the San Francisco area.
In an article written in May of 1981, the Journal Herald’s associate editor Laurence Newman, Jr. devoted a column to Mr. Hironaka. “For more than 30 years an irreverent artist named Pete Hironaka has touched Daytonians with a sense of humor that, like Si Burick or D.L. Stewart, never quits,” Newman wrote. “Like many artists, his causes have been countless — conservation, brotherhood, baseball, anti-bias, the American heritage, to name but a few.”
Mr. Hironaka, who was born in Sacramento and grew up in Salinas, graduated from Miami University in Oxford in 1951. He published a book, “Pete Hironaka’s Report from Round-Eye Country: A Collection of Sketches, Both Verbal and Visual, by a Transplanted American,” in 1981.
For many years he was active in the Dayton chapter of the Japanese American Ciitizen League. During World War II, Mr. Hironaka and members of his family were interned at the Poston Japanese internment camp in Arizona. According to Ron Katsuyama, a JACL vice president for public affairs, “following Pearl Harbor, Executive Order 9066, and a temporary stay in squalid conditions at Pinedale, Pete’s father accompanied him, his older sister and his four younger siblings (including an infant) on a train headed toward the unknown … That destination turned out to be the WRA’s (Wartime Relocation Authority) makeshift city of crudely and hastily built barracks in the heart of Arizona desert.”
Stan Hironaka said his father was in the Japanese internment camp for three years. “That generation didn’t talk a lot about it,” he said. But later, Mr. Hironaka wrote about the conditions in the camp: “The sun, which we cursed so often, again begins to beat down on us. Day by day the mercury rises. Again the rattlers and scorpions come out of their hiding places to ‘play’ with us. The ever-buzzing mosquitoes begin their nightly rounds. It was summer in Poston.”
Stan Hironaka said his father lived in the same home in Kettering for 60 years. “I tried to get him to move out to California after my mother died in 2012, but he just loved living in Dayton. He came out here to spend a month, but couldn’t wait to get back.”
Mr. Hironaka’s funeral was held April 2. Condolences may be sent to the family at www.routsong.com.
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