Dr. Kei Ozaki dies at 91

DOWNEY - Longtime family physician Kei Hisakazu Ozaki passed away Jan. 27 at Downey Regional Medical Center, one week after his 91st birthday.Ozaki practiced medicine in Downey for nearly 60 years. Beginning at an office on 3rd Street, he dedicated his life to his profession by caring for hundreds of Downey families, in addition to his own extended family in various parts of the country. His parents emigrated from Japan and brought with them their traditional culture and ethics. They arrived in Vancouver, Canada, slowly coming down the west coast to end up in Los Angeles. Ozaki enrolled as a freshman at Phineas Banning High School and played football on the "B" team for three years - champions each year - and participated in track. During this time he worked at friends' farms and learned how to farm vegetables and strawberries. On Saturdays he attended Keystone Japanese School to study the Japanese language and traditions. Encouraged by his mother's interest in the medical field, Ozaki enrolled in a pre-med course at Compton Junior College and then started at La Sierra College in Riverside. His studies stopped on Dec. 7, 1941, with the attack on Pearl Harbor and the outbreak of World War II. Ozaki returned home after his father was taken as a prisoner of war, interned as an enemy alien and sent to a camp. His mother, two brothers and two sisters were evicted on Easter Sunday, 1942, to the Santa Anita Assembly Center with 20,000 other Japanese. Ozaki moved to Union College in Lincoln, Neb., to continue his education while the rest of his family was moved to Jerome Relocation Camp in Arkansas. Two of his brothers volunteered for the U.S. Army and joined the 442nd Regimental Combat team. After graduating from Union College in 1944 with a BA in Biology, Ozaki went to Chicago to work. The war ended and his parents were reunited in Los Angeles. Ozaki also returned to California and worked in the White Memorial Hospital experimental lab while attending several classes at USC. He was accepted into the College of Medical Evangelists (now Loma Linda University Medical School). He attended the first two years at Loma Linda and married Mamie Uchida. They made their home in Los Angeles and Ozaki finished his last two years of medical school at White Memorial Hospital, where he graduated in 1951. Ozaki took an internship at Glendale Sanitarium Hospital, where both of his children, Cheri and Cal, where born. Following the internship Ozaki worked with Dr. James Goto in Little Tokyo until he was drafted in the Army and spent two years in Korea. Returning from Korea he was stationed in Fort Lewis, Wash., where his family joined him. After discharge he returned to California and took over Dr. Ronald Sylvester's practice in Downey on 3rd Street. After retiring from active practice with CareMore a few years ago, he assisted Dr. Arthur Edelstein, an ophthalmologist in Downey. Ozaki enjoyed growing roses at his home in Downey, and won three beautification awards from the city. His hobbies also included kendo swords, Aikido self-defense, alpine and cross-country skiing, and fishing (deep sea and trout). He was preceded in death by his parents, Tomino and Kyujiro Ozaki; brother, Yoji Ozaki; and wife, Mamie Ozaki Luthas. He is survived by his daughter, Cheri (Tim) Windemuth; son, Cal (Cindy); grandchildren, Tami (Shane) Tewis, Joe (Gina) Windemuth, and Kim and Krissy Ozaki; brother, Sam (Harue); sisters, Lil Teraji and June (Tom) Nomura; and many nieces and nephews. A memorial service was held Feb. 11 at Miller-Mies Mortuary in Downey.

********** Published: February 17, 2011 - Volume 9 - Issue 44