ForeverMissed
Donations may be made in his memory to the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin, Yu-Ai-Kai Senior Center, or the Japanese American Museum of San Jose.
Posted by John Quinn on September 30, 2020
Hi Shig..You were a pleasure to be around. When I married Diana Tokushige you accepted me into the fold. I enjoyed being around at the festival's. Your big smile always made my day. You were a blessing to all who knew you. The Quinn family will make a donation to Yu-Ai-Kai for you. RIP friend.
Posted by Gene Kinoshita on September 30, 2020
Dear Mary and Family,
Please accept our deepest condolences upon the passing of Shig. I have always admired Shig for his quick wit, big smile, and boundless energy at the Obon, Chidori Band events, and the Reno Bus Wine Trips. I was impressed with his talent at the tables in Reno where he would make friends with everybody at the table. We will miss him dearly. Our prayers and thoughts are with you all.
Love, Gene and Louise 
Posted by Regina Hernandez (Nakamur... on September 29, 2020
Tokiwa Family, my thoughts, prayers and love are with you. Shig was a dear friend to my parents Charles and Jean Nakamura. Shig has known me since I was a baby. I can remember my parents going over to Shig & Mary's house to play cards. I would play with David while my parents played cards. When I would get sleepy, I would fall asleep on their couch. My youngest son Jesse got to roll newspapers with Shig. Shig would tell my son stories of when I was small. I will miss seeing Shig at Obon. The last few years, Shig and Mary would go to Panera Bread (down the street from their house) to enjoy coffee and dessert. We would always have them sit with us. I will miss those days.

Regina Hernandez (Nakamura) and family
Posted by Margaret Morgan-Delong on September 27, 2020
Was so blessed to have the Tokiwas in my life as a young girl growing up on Rosemary Lane.  Shig was a warm, kind and very humorous man much like my own dad. Its a no wonder they got along so well. My thoughts and prayers are with you all at this very difficult time
Margaret Morgan-Delong
Posted by Ron Bungo on September 27, 2020
Dear members of the Tokiwa family I am so sorry to hear of Shig’s passing. I was so fortunate to have worked with him for many years on the Obon construction crew. I always enjoyed those times together. I will truly miss him. 
In Gassho, Ron Bungo

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by John Quinn on September 30, 2020
Hi Shig..You were a pleasure to be around. When I married Diana Tokushige you accepted me into the fold. I enjoyed being around at the festival's. Your big smile always made my day. You were a blessing to all who knew you. The Quinn family will make a donation to Yu-Ai-Kai for you. RIP friend.
Posted by Gene Kinoshita on September 30, 2020
Dear Mary and Family,
Please accept our deepest condolences upon the passing of Shig. I have always admired Shig for his quick wit, big smile, and boundless energy at the Obon, Chidori Band events, and the Reno Bus Wine Trips. I was impressed with his talent at the tables in Reno where he would make friends with everybody at the table. We will miss him dearly. Our prayers and thoughts are with you all.
Love, Gene and Louise 
Posted by Regina Hernandez (Nakamur... on September 29, 2020
Tokiwa Family, my thoughts, prayers and love are with you. Shig was a dear friend to my parents Charles and Jean Nakamura. Shig has known me since I was a baby. I can remember my parents going over to Shig & Mary's house to play cards. I would play with David while my parents played cards. When I would get sleepy, I would fall asleep on their couch. My youngest son Jesse got to roll newspapers with Shig. Shig would tell my son stories of when I was small. I will miss seeing Shig at Obon. The last few years, Shig and Mary would go to Panera Bread (down the street from their house) to enjoy coffee and dessert. We would always have them sit with us. I will miss those days.

Regina Hernandez (Nakamura) and family
his Life

All About Shig

Shig was born March 31,1929 in San Jose to Toyoji & Kumi Tokiwa.  He was the middle child of five -- siblings Yoshiro, Fuji, Betty and Bob.  The family later moved to the Salinas area where they farmed iceberg lettuce.  

When he was 9 years old, he was struck by a car while riding his bicycle.  When he came out of his coma, he couldn’t walk.  It took him about 3 months to recuperate but he eventually was able to return to school in the Fall.  From the accident, he had a big scar on his head, as well as on his leg.  A little funny story -- there was an old picture taken where he was sitting against a tiny tree and it looks like the tree is coming out of his head. Being the jokester he was, he would tell everyone that the scar on his head was where they removed the tree from his head!

In Salinas, he attended Lincoln Elementary School, where he met his long time friend Kaye Masatani.  They remain close friends today, 85 years later!  Not surprising, Shig was a bit mischievous at school, and let’s just say the principal knew him well.  But they liked him, so he never got into too much trouble.

When the war broke out he was 12 years old and the family was sent to an assembly center at the Salinas Rodeo grounds and eventually was sent to the Poston, Arizona internment camp. 

There are many stories from Camp that Shig would share, but one in particular that he used to tell was his famous "fishing" story.  This fishing story had nothing to do with catching fish.  Fences are obviously built to keep things/people in or out.  However, there was something on the other side of a fence that Dad really wanted.  And those were chickens!  Using his ingenuity and mischievousness, he decided to build a fishing pole with a stick, line and bait.  He cast the line over the fence so he could fish for the chickens, and rumor has it that he was quite successful!

After the war was over, the family moved to San Jose where they lived on a ranch and did farm work. They eventually bought some land and farmed their own strawberries.  Shig attended San Jose Technical High School, and after high school he moved to Los Angeles to attend National Trade School where he studied to be an audio technician.

After graduation, he eventually moved back to San Jose and worked where he met and dated Mary Higashi, teaching her how to roller skate, went bowling, go to dances and enjoyed playing cards (Canasta) with friends. They dated for several years, and eventually married in 1956.

Shig and Mary bought a home in Campbell (for $12,000!) and had 2 children, Dave and Janice.  They would spend their summer vacations camping with their trailer, exploring western United States and Canada and of course, staying at the finest lodging establishments, KOA Campgrounds.  

During one of their many camping trips, the family was traveling through the Sierra Nevada mountains and saw a car pulled over on the side of the road. It was a young couple who had run out of gas.  Even though they were pulling their trailer, Shig told them to hop in, turned the trailer around and drove them to a gas station, and then drove them back to their car. They were very grateful and wanted to pay him for his troubles, but Shig said no, but you can help the next person who is in need.  This is just one example of the kind of man Shig was.  

Shig worked hard, and made sure that his children were able to attend college.  Dave married Michele Campbell and blessed Shig with his first beautiful granddaughter, Terra Lynn.  Janice married Troy Franey and he gained his second beautiful granddaughter, Maya.  He also had several grand dogs over the years - Yuki, Hana, Aki, Sammy, Kona, Haku and Bruin, who all adored him (or maybe it was the beef jerky he always had in his pocket!).

Shig worked in the audio technical field for over 45 years and retired at the age of 65.  In retirement, Shig loved to drive, and he and Mary would take day trips all over Northern California.  And sometimes on a rare occasion, they would even take day trips to Reno, returning home at 2am in the morning! (often getting scolded by their children!)

Shig’s extensive volunteer work with the San Jose Buddhist Church started in the early 70’s when Bill Furukawa and Jim Ichikawa recruited him.  He installed the audio system for the church, and quickly became THE audio guy - managing all the audio needs for not only the large church events, but eventually all the Japanese community festivals, including the San Jose Obon Festivals, Nikkei Matsuri and Daruma Festival.  You knew when he was involved or in charge when all of the equipment was labeled with tape and had his name on it!  His scope then expanded to the Chidori Band, where he contributed 45 years of service and support to the Band.  In 2015, he was honored and recognized by Yu Ai Kai, where he received an award presented to him by the Consul General of Japan for his many years of volunteer work to Yu-Ai-Kai.

Shig was a strong individual who overcame many adversities in his life, however he never let them extinguish his joyous attitude or his bright carefree smile! He remained a quick-witted jokester his whole life, lighting up a room with his jokes and always making people smile. With a twinkle in his eye, Shig was able to spark joy in anyone he came into contact with and no one will ever forget him. We will miss his smile and quick humor. 
Recent stories

To Dad on his 80th Birthday (3/31/2009) - from Michele Tokiwa

Shared by Janice Franey on September 19, 2020
I wanted to let you know, I thank God for the day you were born.  You have been a great blessing in my life.  If you were never born, you would have never married mom and had such a wonderful son.
I believe Dave was destined to be my husband.  You raised him to be an amazing person in all aspects of life.  I hit the jackpot when he chose me to become his bride.  He has given me the most glorious life possible.  He has taught me about TRUE love.
ALL BECAUSE YOU WERE BORN...Dave has given me the most precious gift of all in your granddaughter, Terra-Lynn.  She is beautiful in every way possible and the light of my life.
ALL BECAUSE YOU WERE BORN...After losing my Dad at the age of sixteen, I thought I lost that father-daughter relationship forever.  But God is faithful and he brought you into my life to fill that huge gap.  Thank you for always being there!  You have supported and helped me in ways you do not realize.  You are always there when I call for help.  Please know it has never gone unnoticed.  Thank you and I know my Dad would thank you also!
ALL BECAUSE YOU WERE BORN...I have learned a lot from both you and mom about life, family and patience (OK, I am still working on the patience part).  You have a quiet strong spirit that has given me strength many times.  It is true!
ALL BECAUSE YOU WERE BORN...I wanted to let you know that you have made a huge impact in my life and I owe you too much to every repay.
I love you!
Your second daughter, Michele

Shigeru, Shig, Dad, Pops, Papa (from Troy Franey)

Shared by Janice Franey on September 19, 2020
When I think of Dad, I think of the impact he had on other people’s lives, how he connected with people, friends, acquaintances and yes even strangers. I can’t tell you how many times we would be in a restaurant and he would always make friends with the server. Usually starting out with a joke or a very interesting, personal question. But what was interesting was how they responded to Dad. Not shrugging him off but rather creating this very cool dialogue which only got better throughout our dinners.

I was taught that life is about experiences and connecting with other people. One of my favorite movies is called Its A Wonderful Life. Although the movie is about a man, George, who after having some doubt about his life and who finds his way back with the help of an angel, the end of the movie is what reminds me of Dad. After George’s uncle loses the deposit money for their bank and the Feds are at George’s house waiting for him, he sees his family standing there, happy and healthy. He doesn’t care about going to jail, just that his family is all right.

At that moment, droves of townspeople entered his house and begin dropping all of their hard earned money on the table. For years, George had helped anyone who needed help, sometimes giving them a loan for a business or home which they were not qualified for or just doing them a favor in time of need. The townspeople realized how George had impacted their lives and by doing so, made George realize that same fact.

At the very end, George’s younger brother walks in the house, raises a glass with all of the other townspeople and says, “To my big brother George, the richest man in town.”  Of course, it had nothing to do with money, but rather the friends he had in this life because of who he was and the impact he had on their lives.

To me, Shigeru, Shig, Dad, Pops, Papa was just like George… the richest man in town!