Farewell to a Friend

My good buddy Doug Yamada was the inspiration and source of much of the background information for my novel THIN WOOD WALLS. Without his fascinating family stories and gentle nudges, the book simply wouldn’t have been written. He filled my ear (and my head) with chapters of national and local history I’d barely glimpsed and introduced me to places where shadows of the past still lingered and to people who were more than willing to share their personal stories of how history impacted their lives and how their lives impacted history.

He was so happy when the book got published, and not just because his name appeared in the acknowledgments . He believed the story needed to be told, and people needed to read it, and he was gratified that he had a part in getting it out to readers who, sixty-some years after the events surrounding the story of Joe Hanada and his family occurred, still didn’t know the history and might be vulnerable to letting it happen again.

This afternoon Doug’s daughter called to tell me that he died last night. The news came like a tsunami, a sledgehammer, a punch in the gut. Unexpected. Unbelievable. Sad. And so final. He had a big, warm, generous heart, but his flesh and blood heart finally gave out, and those who knew him are the poorer for it.

I’ll miss you, buddy, but you’ll be with us in our thoughts, and in the pages of a book that never would’ve been written without you.




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