Kenji Hisatomi
1941 - 2020
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Kenji Hisatomi, 79, of Vancouver, WA, passed away in September 2020. He was born the middle of five children on March 28, 1941, to Hideo and Kunie Hisatomi in Kobe, Japan. His siblings Miyoko, Yuji, Kunio and Hiroshi all had families of their own and remained in Japan.
He trained and worked in the elevator industry for six years with Mitsubishi Elevators, one being the Kobe Tower, which was completed in 1963.
In 1967 Kenji immigrated to the US to start anew. On a ship leaving from Yokohama, he passed thru Hawaii and ended in Los Angeles, CA. His cousin Ritsuko, had settled in southern Oregon with her husband, thus was his first US stop. He decided to keep going north and see what Portland, OR, was like, but the Japanese population was too small, so continuing on, he ended in Seattle, WA.
Soon after, he met Alice and enrolled in school to learn English, while living with a sponsor family. They were married in 1969 and welcomed the arrival of their daughter Kirsten in 1970.
In 1971 the little family moved to Vancouver as Kenji took a job working for Westinghouse Elevators in Portland. His first job was elevator construction on the First National Bank Tower (now known as the Wells Fargo Center) which officially opened in 1972, in downtown Portland. Kenji worked for numerous elevator companies over the years in construction, modernization, repair and service of elevators and escalators. He worked 33 years as a member of the IUEC (International Union of Elevator Constructors) Local 23. He loved his job and often joked that the industry had its ups and downs.
In 1976 Kenji was baptized into Christianity and in 1977 he proudly became a naturalized American citizen.
Throughout his life he enjoyed fishing, hunting, gardening, hand bells, bowling, golf, softball, photography, baseball (Go Mariners!), and after retiring in 2004, traveling, cruising, and volunteering for the Vancouver Symphony.
Kenji is survived by his wife, Alice; daughter, Kirsten (Joe); brother, Kunio (Yoko); sister-in-law, Carolyn; cousin, Ritsuko; and six nieces and many great nieces and nephews in Japan.
Donations may be made in his memory to the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra (
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Published in The Columbian on Mar. 27, 2021.
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March 29, 2021
What a treasure he was to SO MANY people. One of the kindest, coolest, cutest TRUE GENTLEMAN. The world is a better place because he was in it. We sure miss him, and know that you girls do also. We love you!
Cindy and Travis Nolen
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