The International Examiner asked the community to share their memories of Alan Sugiyama. What follows are some of the responses. Please visit iexaminer.org and see future issues of the IE for more memories. And please continue to share your memories of Alan by emailing [email protected].
I had the pleasure of hosting Al at my home for dinner twice. The first time, I hosted a dinner with about eight board members from NAAAP-Seattle and [Executive Development Institute] EDI. I asked each guest to share a story about an Asian American role model. I made the “mistake” of letting Al go first. Because he was such a gifted storyteller, we ended up listening to him for two hours recount the history of the Asian American Civil Rights Movement. Everyone else had to rush their own story!
By the second dinner, I had learned my lesson. It was a fundraiser for NAAAP-Seattle. Six guests paid $50 each to have the privilege of dining with Al (he said we undervalued the price of the tickets and people would have been willing to pay more to be with him!). This time, I went around and asked the six guests to share a bit about themselves and then to ask Al a question, but Al couldn’t say anything until the end. Of course, Al couldn’t help himself and started interrupting after the fourth guest.
That Al was such a talker. And we all loved listening to him because he had the best stories.
I came to Seattle in my late 20s, in January 1980, after growing up on the East Coast, and spending a few years in the Bay Area. Al Sugiyama was always a vital part of my new adopted city, where I ended up having and raising kids, and completing a career.
His vitality , accessibility and positivism was contagious. I was so pleased when he was on the school board when my oldest first started school and I became involved in education, as an “avocation.” Al was a tremendous relentless force and influence for social justice and equal rights in our community.
He will be sorely missed but never forgotten.
A life lived very well. Rest in peace, Al. You did well and will be greatly missed.
Thank you, Al, for setting the role for us and keeping the struggle real. We have big shoes to fill as those times may not be as visible, but they are omnipresent. Certain industries are more progressive than others, but it feels like in some, it is still very much there. For your family, I wish them comfort and much love. Rest in paradise our dear friend and champion.
He was a fighter. Stood up for our rights. A hero like Donnie Chin. Whenever I saw him he was like, “Hey man.” He was street, like me.
Oh my, oh my. Al and I were just writing last year to one another. He’s been my mentor for more than 20 years. He told me about the cancer, but it didn’t worry me. Al’s one of the best fighters I know. I had faith. Unfortunately, I just found out from a friend and it looks like sometimes even the best can’t beat everything.
During the 20+ years I’ve known Al, he has been an incredible beam of light in all that we fight against. He’s been one of the most amazing people I’ve been lucky enough to call a friend on top of being my mentor. You left this world way too early my friend. I will miss you more than words can express.
Deepest condolences, “cousin.” Thanks so much for reaching out and creating a wonderful connection. Miss you.