Robert Katsumi Fujii
1929 - 2017
Robert Katsumi Fujii passed away unexpectedly at Heritage House on June 17, 2017. Bob was born on July 31, 1929 at Santa Barbara’s St. Francis Hospital to parents, Kintsuchi and Tatsu Fujii who immigrated from Japan in 1917. The youngest of two sons, Bob spent his early childhood on the family farm on the Mesa near Hendry’s Beach and the Douglas Family Preserve. He attended McKinley Elementary School and La Cumbre Junior High. During WWII, 12-year old Bob and his family left Santa Barbara when they were sent to the Gila River Internment camp in Arizona for four years.
When the war ended, the family returned to Santa Barbara where Bob completed high school at Santa Barbara High and graduated with the class of 1947. He attended UC Santa Barbara College which was on the Riviera. In 1951, he received a degree in industrial arts and hoped to go on into a printing career. During the Korean War, he was drafted into the Marine Corps and was stationed in San Diego, serving two years on active duty. During the six years in the Reserves, he helped build a family home for his parents and brother and sister-in-law. Bob started his lifetime career by responding to an ad in 1956. He was hired by the Southern California Gas Company, moved to the Los Angeles area and spent 35 wonderful years working for the company.
Anyone who knew Bob will agree that his lifetime passion was to watch high school and college basketball games (Go Bruins!). During retirement, he focused on just that. Every year he looked forward to basketball season with the culmination being March Madness. Occasionally, he helped in identifying high school players for college-level basketball teams. It was always rewarding for him to see gangly kids turn into athletes and go on to college and professional careers.
In 2014, Bob moved from his home in Cerritos and returned to Santa Barbara to be close to family, saying that now his life has completed a full circle. It is here in Santa Barbara at Heritage House where he enjoyed the last 2-1/2 years making new friends and reconnecting with old ones, being cared for by loving, compassionate people who were like family to him. He was so comfortable, so at peace and very happy that the Warriors won the championship—what else does one need?
Bob was predeceased by his parents and his older brother, Frank Fujii. Bob leaves behind his sister-in-law, Dorothy Fujii, and three nieces, Roberta Cook (Steve), Melanie Fujii, Doreen Sasaki (Glenn) and his two grandnieces, Allie Ester (Chris) and Morgan Cook (fiancée Jonathan Russell).
The family wishes to thank Dr. Eric Trautwein, Dr. Greg Newman and Dr. Robert Harbaugh for their care and support of Bob. And to the staff of Heritage House and the Assisted Home Hospice Team, the family extends their heartfelt appreciation for the gentle, dedicated care and positive encouragement they gave to Bob as well as the compassion they showed to the family.
A funeral service will take place for Bob on Saturday, July 8 at 12 noon at the Buddhist Church of Santa Barbara, 1015 E. Montecito Street, Santa Barbara.