ForeverMissed
This memorial website was created in memory of our beloved, Rose Matsui Ochi 81 years old, born on December 15, 1938 and passed away on December 13, 2020. We will remember her always and will miss her forever.



Per Rose's wishes, in lieu of flowers and/or "koden", please donate only to the following organization. 

Tribute contributions in memory of Rose Ochi can be made to Go For Broke National Education Center (GFBNEC).  To make an online gift, click here, or go to www.goforbroke.org/support/donate/donate.php. Checks made payable to, "Go For Broke National Education Center," can be mailed to,
355 E. 1st Street, Suite 200
Los Angeles, CA 90012. 

GFBNEC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.  Federal Tax ID # 95-4245623. 

Thank you for your support.



Please feel free to leave a tribute below, browse the "LIFE" tab for featured news articles and videos from her life, and/or leave your own personal story about Rose in the "STORIES" tab above.  You may also add photos of Rose to the photo "GALLERY" by clicking on the red "Add Photos" button to the right of this page. 
Posted by Lin Liu on April 12, 2021
I'll miss Rose's mentorship and friendship from over the last 20+ years. She was always generous with her time and insightful comments. Forever direct and to the point, she could always hone in quickly on the problems to solve. It was great to have Rose as an important leader for APIA and civil rights issues during my time serving at President Clinton's Race Initiative and when she was leading the Community Relations Service at DOJ. 

Rose was also a great Aunt to my daughter when she was young. We might still have some Sanrio Hello Kitty products around the house since she seemed to always be gifting us with something. 

Thank you Rose for everything you mean to me and the community. You will be sorely missed. 
Posted by Ronald Weathersby on March 16, 2021
I am deeply saddened to discover at such a late date that a lady I have known for 40 years has left us. To say that I have always considered Rose Ochi a friend is an understatement. We met as fellow employees in the mayor's office. Our offices were in close proximity and we shared greetings and smiles daily. Beyond her groundbreaking career I will remember Rose as a kind and thoughtful individual with a joyful spirit. My sincerest sympathy to her family. Rest in peace Rose. Your work made our world a better place for all of us.
Posted by Tom Surh on February 19, 2021
It was my good fortune to work with Rose when she was the lone Asian member of the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy (1979-81) and I was the lone Asian staff member. Her political smarts, positive attitude and humor kept me going during a challenging time. For API communities, it was a matter of damage control: the staff director worked hard to get the Commission to recommend eliminating the "5th preference" (immigration status for brothers and sisters of US citizens), but he failed. During this time, she was head of criminal justice planning for Mayor Bradley, and I learned of the incredible challenges she faced dealing with various law enforcement personalities as an Asian woman. Remember, this was the late 70's. 
I am very sad to hear of her passing. I shall always remember her with great warmth and respect. 
Posted by Howard Ho on January 5, 2021
Rose changed my life. She hired me at a low point in my life, and I worked under her for a year and a half. And through her powerful example, I learned confidence, self-reliance, and a true sense of community. She cared about everything from the large scale vision to the minute details, and she knew how to communicate with warmth, humor, and grace with everyone from the most powerful person in the room to the young newbie like me. I will never forget her or her life lessons. I'm grateful to have had her in my life. My heartfelt condolences to Tommy and to everyone else she has touched.
Posted by Candace Cooper on January 5, 2021
Rose Ochi was a truly phemenonal woman.  I do not know anyone who knew her (including myself) that was not in awe of her intelligence, wit, dedication, passion and lust for life. It did not hurt that she was also very beautiful with impecable style and grace. Nevertheless, she stood on the right side of issues and would use all of her immeasurable talents to help acquire justice whenever and where ever she could. Rose was one of a kind and will be missed! Rest in peace beautiful warrior!!
Posted by Al Muratsuchi on January 5, 2021
I am one of many, many people who Rose inspired and helped in her lifetime. I first met Rose when I was LA regional director of the Japanese American Citizens League in the mid-1990s and she would drop by to visit her good friend Carol Saito. Rose always stood out - strong, poised, accomplished, and beautiful - but she never forgot where she came from, and she always helped mentor the next generation. Like with others who have now departed, I regret not taking the time to stay in touch. Thank you Rose, and rest in peace.
Posted by Nicole Bershon on January 5, 2021
I had the pleasure of working with and for Rose when she was on the Police Commission and I was with the Inspector General's Office. She was a true champion for human rights and embodied the ideal of public service. She leaves behind a tremendous legacy and will be sorely missed.
Posted by Bill Luddy on January 2, 2021
Looking through all the photographs on this tribute page you cant help but be struck by the wide range of friends and associates Rose had. But the most striking photo is the next last - a family photo when Rose could not have been more than two years old. Rose has a look of absolute determination - the same determination that led her to so many ground breaking accomplishments.
It was my privilege to know Rose and she will be sorely missed and fondly remembered.
Posted by Kelley Kubota on December 28, 2020
My brother, Eric, said it well...Tommy and Rose were the "cool friends of our parents", and ski trips with them really were the best! Rose was larger than life...she was generous, kind, FUN, and someone you just wanted to be around! She had a great laugh and wicked sense of humor. When I was much younger, I didn't realize that she was breaking down barriers and paving the way for Japanese/Asian American women like me. Her contributions to civil rights are profound. Rest in Power, Rose. Thank you for showing me that standing for justice matters and that one person can make a difference.
Posted by Emmy Akiyama on December 26, 2020
If you had the privilege of being invited into Rose's life as a mentee, you've had at least one good cup of tea, at least one good meal where she tried to teach you to eat healthy, at least one professional decision that she influenced, and at least one amazingly crazy adventure that you've lived to tell the story about. I knew her as a politically savvy, fierce, and generous spirit who took many under her wing, and one of the best role models for how to live life to the fullest. Thank you Rose, for the many, many gifts you gave us. 
Posted by jan perry on December 26, 2020
To say that you will be missed hardly seems enough. Rose, you always showed up with grace, intelligence and wisdom. I am grateful to have been one of the many beneficiaries of your mentorship and friendship. I always looked forward to seeing you at Little Tokyo events and over the holidays.There is a huge hole in my heart but it is filled with joyful memories of good times and conversation. with you. Your memory will always be a blessing.
Posted by Bruce Saito on December 26, 2020
We will all miss you dear friend and mentor but we will never forget your passion and commitment to Justice and Equality for all people. I will forever be driven to serve because of the examples you have established for me and every generation to come. Rest in Peace and in Power, Rose.
Posted by Scott LaChasse on December 25, 2020
Our community will forever benefit from Rose Ochi's vision, wisdom and leadership. My first contact with Rose was in the mid-1980s when she was Mayor Tom Bradley's Criminal Justice Planning Office Director. I was immediately impressed with her vibrancy, command of the issues we tackled, ability to forge result-producing relationships with a diverse group of parties, as well as for her skill in developing well-defined and achievable strategies. As a young police captain, she recommended that I be a participant with the Milton Eisenhower Foundation, that would travel to Japan to study crime reduction strategies. Upon return, we collaborated to obtain a grant for the Challengers Boys and Girls Club from the Foundation. I then witnessed her significant accomplishments in Washington, DC, as the Director of the DOJ's Community Relations Service. She subsequently was appointed as a Member of Board of the Los Angeles Police Commission where she continued to advocate for contemporary police practices. Soon thereafter our paths once again crossed when she appointed me to various positions on the California Forensic Science Institute Board. She once again flourished by bringing distinction to the CFSI as well as significant support for the forensic sciences. Her service and commitment to our community and advocacy for a transparent and responsive criminal justice system are certainly a part her legacy. Rose Ochi is a person of distinction who will forever be remembered.
Posted by Eric Kubota on December 24, 2020
They were just “Tommy and Rose” to us — the cool friends of our parents but those ski trips were the best. Little did I know the impact Rose was making on our Japanese American community and all of our community in general. Looking back, I think she knew the impact she was making on our lives — I just hope we have been able to make a fraction of that impact on others. RIP, Rose, you and Tommy were a huge part of the childhoods of myself and my siblings and I can only hope to carry on a small sliver of your legacy.
Posted by JAMES HAHN on December 22, 2020
Rose Ochi worked tirelessly to see that justice was achieved in her community and our nation. To know Rose was to be brought into her circle of friends and admirers, because she wanted all of them to know of her affection for you. Loyal to a fault, Rose always let me know when she thought I needed a little constructive criticism. She was my mentor and friend, and a great friend to my dad, Kenny Hahn and his Chief Deputy, Mas Fukai. She continued that friendship with my sister Janice in her political career. She was a pillar of the Japanese American Community and seemed to be involved in every good work in our city. When I wanted a Police Commission that would work to implement community policing and bring much needed reform to LAPD, Rose Ochi was a necessary and important voice on that commission. There are few individuals in Los Angeles history who have served Mayors and Presidents with such distinction and were also so much fun to be with. I will miss you Rose. Thanks for sharing her with all of us, Tommy.
Posted by Elwood Lui on December 21, 2020
Rose was a friend and an inspiration to all who ever met her. She was an accomplished lawyer and civil rights activist who passionately touched the lives of many. She was a devoted public servant and served in many significant positions including the Department of Justice, Community Relations Service during the Carter Administration, an advisor to President Clinton on Drug Policy and Race Relations, a Senior Advisor to Mayor Tom Bradley and a Los Angeles Police Commissioner under Mayor James Hahn to mention a few. Her work with the Western Center on Law and Poverty as co-counsel on the landmark Serrano vs. Priest case was one of the most notable cases in her career. 

Rose was honored as a recipient of the 2020 Beacon of Justice Award by the Friends of the County Law Library. The Library's tribute to Rose is exhibited on the Library's website and will perpetuate her memory.

I was touched by her kindness, friendship, and support over the years. She had a beautiful soul and will be missed. Thank you Rose and God be with you. Elwood Lui


Posted by Mike Eng on December 21, 2020
Rose Ochi was one of the most distinguished residents of Monterey Park with a lifetime commitment to coalition building, thoughtful public policy and dedicated public service. I remember talking with her about her appointment by then- President Jimmy Carter to the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy from 1979-83 and her desire to seek all opinions concerning what would be a reasonable national policy. When I served on the city council I remember having conversations with her about how to value and unify different constituencies. Rose Ochi was far ahead of her time with her progressive ideas and she leaves us far too early. She will be sorely missed.
Posted by JUDY CHU on December 21, 2020
Rose Ochi paved the way for people like me. There were so few Asian American women in leadership positions as I was growing that I never even dreamed that I could be an elected official, let alone a Congressmember. But Rose was so bold that she was an inspiration to me. Despite having been raised at the Rohwer concentration camp, she continued to break barrier after barrier. Actually, I believe it was because she was raised in the camp that she broke those barriers. She sought positions that would allow her to fight for justice, such as the director of LA’s Criminal Justice Office under Mayor Tom Bradley. She was the first Asian American woman to be appointed to the LA Police Commission. And then, she made her mark in Washington DC, becoming the first Asian American woman to serve at the assistant attorney general level, a US Senate confirmed position. Rose was passionate and compassionate, and always had a word of encouragement for me. I was lucky to have her as my constituent. I was lucky to have known her. 
Posted by William Fujioka on December 21, 2020
I worked Rose Ochi when I was on the Joint Powers Authority overseeing the construction of the Los Angeles Regional Crime Lab. However, this was not the first time that I heard of this incredible and trailblazing woman. I started my career with the City of Los Angeles in 1974 as an administrative intern. At that time, there were few Asian Pacific Islanders holding executive positions in public service. One of the few was Rose who was the Director of Criminal Justice Planning in the Office Mayor Tom Bradley. For me, Rose was truly a “Unicorn”. She was one of the few APIs who overcame many racial and gender barriers to rise in public service. For many of us, Rose became both an inspiration and role model. The example she set and her impact opened doors not only for other APIs but all ethnic minorities.

Following her amazing accomplishments as an Assistant US Attorney General in the Clinton Administration, she returned to Los Angeles where she played a critical role in the creation of the California Forensic Science Institute (CFSI) located on the campus of California State University at Los Angeles. As the first Executive Director of CFSI, she worked tirelessly to obtain grants and other funding to support the goals and objectives of CFSI. I can personally attest to the fact that the role Rose played led to the success of both CFSI and the Regional Crime Lab. It is my sincere wish that her contributions will be appreciated and hopefully one day be appropriately recognized.

Lastly, I want to acknowledge her husband Tommy Ochi. Their marriage was truly a life partnership.

God bless you Rose. Thank you for being in my life as an inspiration and role model.
Posted by DARLENE KUBA on December 20, 2020
I met Rose in 1975 when I worked for the late Councilman Gilbert Lindsay and she worked for the late Mayor Tom Bradley as the Director for Criminal Justice Planning. She was more than a friend and mentor....she was my Mama. As a young public servant, it was exceptionally inspiring to see and meet a Japanese American woman in a leadership role. Rose was my model of professionalism, strength and integrity. We were always there for each other during both the good and difficult times. We shared many, many moments of both laughter and tears. She invited me as her guest to a State dinner hosted by President Clinton for the Prime Minister of Japan. Watching the ease and grace in how she interacted with the many dignitaries at the dinner is something that will always be with me. In my life there has been a select few who have truly impacted my life. Rose is at the top of my list. Her memory and impact will be with me for the rest of my life. Thank you for everything you've done for me. I love you and I will miss you very much. Rest in peace Mama Rose.
Posted by Harley Sagara on December 20, 2020
I had the pleasure of working for Rose at the California Forensic Science Institute (CFSI) where she was the Executive Director. Under her skillful guidance, CFSI bridged the gap between scientific advancements in a variety of scientific disciples and the effective utilization of those innovations in public crime laboratories. Rose had an uncanny skill of pulling people together to work toward advancing the forensic sciences and developing public policy.

On a personal note, Rose simply cared for people. She would strike up conversations with complete strangers, take an immediate interest in their lives, and help them if she could. Many students were the beneficiaries of Rose’s generosity and care. Also, if a person was blessed to be a staff member for Rose, he or she would immediately be adopted into her “family” and that would include her remembering every birthday and occasion. Rose loved to celebrate milestones and always focused the attention on others, not on her; and in most cases, Tommy would secretly pick up the tab. Having Rose and Tommy in our lives has been such an inspiration and blessing.
Posted by Barry Fisher on December 20, 2020
I first met Rose in the mid-1990s while I was at the Sheriff's Crime Lab and only got to really know her when she was appointed the first Executive Director of the California Institute of Forensic Science at California State University, Los Angeles. How can anyone truly describe Rose other than to say she was a force of nature, an advocate for all the many things she believed in, a mentor, and a dear friend. She was truly a presence in Los Angeles and later with her work with the US DOJ. But I think she was proudest of her efforts to bring some degree of reconciliation to those in the Japanese-American community who were sent to internment camps during WWII. I shall miss Rose dearly and hope her family and friends can find a degree of confort in their memories of Rose.
Posted by Steve Cooley on December 20, 2020
Rose Ochi’s contributions to better the public at large are unquestionably many and significant. I only knew Rose by reputation before I was elected District Attorney in 2000. I had the great privilege and pleasure of getting to know Rose better when she became a key participant in a planning group set up to assure the Los Angeles Joint Regional Crime Lab came to fruition. I can think of no one who contributed more to the success of that project than Rose. Our friendship grew over many years as Rose lent her leadership and skills to that most important endeavor. May a great person RIP!
Posted by Ronald Wong on December 20, 2020
For Rose Ochi a hallmark of her many years of public service was the time she spent mentoring and supporting the next generation of Asian American and Pacific Islander leaders. Rose and her husband Tommy enjoyed spending time with their dogs, and although she did not have children of her own, she has hundreds of proteges which all consider Rose family.

I am fortune to be one of those proteges. I’ve spent the last 35 years on politics and working on the political empowerment of the AAPI community and met Rose in the 1980’s when she had a senior position with LA Mayor Tom Bradley. I was in my early 20’s and Rose gave me the encouragement and support a mother would, I lost my own mother when I was 7 years old. Later in 1996, when President Clinton won re-election and I was looking for an appointment in the Clinton Administration, Rose reached out to me and made me her special assistant and director of communications for the U.S. Department of Justice, Community Relations Services.

Rose has always been there when I needed advice and support. She will sorely be missed.
Posted by Janice Fukai on December 20, 2020
I had the privilege of knowing Rose for many years. Simply put, Rose was one of the most inspirational women I knew. After breaking through unthinkable racist and sexist barriers, Rose made it her mission to help others do the same, myself included. Whenever Rose saw me at an event, she insisted on praising me to every dignitary in the room (whether I wanted her to or not.) For Rose, it was always about promoting others, never herself. It was always about selflessly serving the underserved.

I am, without question, one of the many beneficiaries of Rose Ochi’s tireless mentorship, support and good heart. Thank you Rose. Thank you Tommy. I am eternally grateful.
Posted by Ron Wakabayashi on December 18, 2020
I was fortunate to have had many years and many chances to share with Rose. She was my very good friend. This gave me a window to see her, always attentive to needs and individuals, groups or the community. Redress, Manzanar, East Los Angeles, Immigrants, communities of color, law enforcement, so many people and places she touched just because that was the way she was built. There won’t be another like her. Boy, do I miss her.
Posted by James Regalado on December 18, 2020
Like so many others, I loved and respected Rose for the very person she was and the legions of individuals, groups and communities she touched, mentored, and empowered. My cardiologist at Kaiser (Dr Watanabe) knew Rose well inasmuch as his mother and Rose were great friends. I had a video meeting with him this morning. Only then did I learn of her passing. She was a giant among us -- and we all walked with her and in her very large shadow.
Posted by Fernando Torres-Gil on December 18, 2020
To a dear friend and an inspiring role model. Rose was one unique individual; vigorous, passionate, overpowering at times, loving, loyal and so fun to be with. Everything she did, she did with gusto. I will always remember her 50 weeding anniversary with her beloved Tommy and outfitted in a pink poodle skirt while dancing to "50s" music. One of a kind, never to be replicated. RIP My good friend. Love, Fernando Torres-GIl
Posted by Ron Tom on December 17, 2020
To my "sister" who shared the our journey of APIA empowerment from the 1970's onward, thank you for your commitment, your energy, your passion and wisdom in making sure our community had a voice. Truly will miss your amazing sense of humor, your love of a good party, and your beauty and grace. Maeley Tom

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Lin Liu on April 12, 2021
I'll miss Rose's mentorship and friendship from over the last 20+ years. She was always generous with her time and insightful comments. Forever direct and to the point, she could always hone in quickly on the problems to solve. It was great to have Rose as an important leader for APIA and civil rights issues during my time serving at President Clinton's Race Initiative and when she was leading the Community Relations Service at DOJ. 

Rose was also a great Aunt to my daughter when she was young. We might still have some Sanrio Hello Kitty products around the house since she seemed to always be gifting us with something. 

Thank you Rose for everything you mean to me and the community. You will be sorely missed. 
Posted by Ronald Weathersby on March 16, 2021
I am deeply saddened to discover at such a late date that a lady I have known for 40 years has left us. To say that I have always considered Rose Ochi a friend is an understatement. We met as fellow employees in the mayor's office. Our offices were in close proximity and we shared greetings and smiles daily. Beyond her groundbreaking career I will remember Rose as a kind and thoughtful individual with a joyful spirit. My sincerest sympathy to her family. Rest in peace Rose. Your work made our world a better place for all of us.
Posted by Tom Surh on February 19, 2021
It was my good fortune to work with Rose when she was the lone Asian member of the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy (1979-81) and I was the lone Asian staff member. Her political smarts, positive attitude and humor kept me going during a challenging time. For API communities, it was a matter of damage control: the staff director worked hard to get the Commission to recommend eliminating the "5th preference" (immigration status for brothers and sisters of US citizens), but he failed. During this time, she was head of criminal justice planning for Mayor Bradley, and I learned of the incredible challenges she faced dealing with various law enforcement personalities as an Asian woman. Remember, this was the late 70's. 
I am very sad to hear of her passing. I shall always remember her with great warmth and respect. 
her Life

Rose Ochi - Celebration of Life - Zoom Event (Recorded on April 10, 2021)

On Saturday, April 10, 2021, Rose's family and friends gathered via Zoom to celebrate the life of Takayo Rose Matsui Ochi.  The hour and a half long celebration was recorded and has been edited to highlight the event as best possible. 

Thanks to the Rose Ochi Celebration of Life Committee members who made this event possible: Darlene Kuba, Joanna Law, Karen Narasaki, Dolly Gee and Jeanette Takamura

Special thanks to Tommy Ochi (Rose's husband) and Marlene Matsui (Rose's niece).

State Legislators Celebrate Life of Rose Ochi

California Legislature adjourned in memory to celebrate the life of civil rights activist and attorney, Takayo Rose Matsui Ochi, led by Assemblymembers Chris Holden, Reginald Jones-Sawyer, and Al Muratsuchi.
Recent stories

How I met Rose Ochi.

Shared by Barry Fisher on December 20, 2020
Remembering Rose (apologies for the lengthy introduction to set the stage how my interaction with Rose first began):
My first meeting ...
Back during Sheriff Sherman Block's term, the courts were facing a serious backlog of drug cases. The County jail had filled up to the point where the Federal court was seriously looking at a consent decree to deal with the jail overcrowding issue. 
A working committee was formed  consisting of Assistant Sheriff Dick Forman, Deputy DA Steve Kay (who along with Vincent Bugliosi prosecuted the Charles Manson case), Michael Judge (later to become the L.A. County Public Defender), and a fellow from the ACLU. They met regularly at the Hall of Justice and eventually determined that the choke point was the crime lab. 
I was invited to these meeting as the Sheriff's crime laboratory director and eventually was directed to find a way to speed up the turn around time to test drug cases. Kay and Judge agreed that if they knew the results of the analyses at the time of arraignment, they could set up a version of "let's make a deal" to have the defendant plead out and thus lower the incarnation rates. The trick was to have the test results over to the DA's office within 48 hours.
We went to work back at the lab and came up with a scheme to have evidence curriers stop at police and sheriff's stations each day and to run the evidence to the lab, ASAP. Lab personnel would immediately conduct the tests on the drug cases and fax the results to the DA's office. For a ”proof of concept” we agreed on using Inglewood municipal court and target those agencies who arraigned their drug cases at that court. Judge and Kay were assigned there. As  experienced criminal litigators, they could negotiate a fair and usually the best deal for the defendant who the theory went would plead guilty to the charges thus cutting back on the number of inmates in custody and awaiting trial. 
So we set it up and it worked. Now we need a way to fund a county-wide effort. The US Department of Justice had several grants available for Los Angeles County. Sherman Block, as Sheriff would oversee where the funding went, but he had to keep the L. A. City and independent cities happy. 
We started to hold meetings in a conference room at the County’s central jail to discuss how to divide up the federal dollars. Naturally, the city, county, and independent cities had different ideas about how to best spend the funds. L.A. City's idea was to have the City Attorney condemn properties where drugs were being sold. The independent cities wanted to use the money to fund a county-wide communications systems and the County (the Sheriff's Department) supported the effort to rapidly turn around drug cases. 
Those meetings were my first experiences dealing with Rose. Jackie Goldberg also was involved as well as a deputy city attorney. Our county representative was LASD Commander Billy Hinkle who was generally unable to effectively argue with the mayor's representative, Rose Ochi. Rose would beat the living daylights out of us each time we met. But eventually, we managed to come up with a scheme to divide up the funds and everyone got something. But it was painful being beaten up by Rose each time we met.
Fast forward to the early 2000s: We figured out a way to build a new crime lab on the CSULA campus to house the LAPD and LASD labs along with the college's criminal justice department. For some reason, all the planets lined up and the project was going reasonably well (although CSULA was often a pain to deal with). Sometimes, I get these crazy ideas and this was one of them: I proposed an  idea to create a forensic science institute, to be named the California Forensic Science Institute. I reasoned that an institute affiliated with a university would have an easier time getting Federal funds for in-service education and research. I pitched the idea to the CSULA administration and they liked it. Jim Kelly, dean of the College of Health and Human Services was our point of contact. 
One day Jim came to see me. He had a sheepish look on his face. He told me that the university had found a candidate for the executive director of the new institute, but I had veto rights if I disapproved. If I didn't care for the person, they would find someone else. And who was this mysterious person? It was Rose Ochi. Rose had told Jim that she perceived some bad blood between us. With little thought, I told Jim that yes, I had dealings with Rose and recounted how she regularly whupped us at the negotiating table. However, I told Jim that I'd sooner have Rose on our team than against us. So CSULA hired Rose who became the first  executive director of the CFSI. We became fast friends and I learned what a fine choice we had made.