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Monday, March 25 , 2019, 2:22 pm | Fair 62º


Former Santa Maria Councilman, County Supervisor Toru Miyoshi Dies at Age 90

Santa Maria Valley native is remembered for his public service with local government and military service

Toru Miyoshi
Toru Miyoshi (Courtesy photo)

Toru Miyoshi, who was incarcerated at concentration camps as a youth during World War II and then served on the Santa Maria City Council and Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, has died at age 90.

The Guadalupe native later moved to Santa Maria, according to an obituary from Dudley-Hoffman Mortuary

Miyoshi served on the Santa Maria City Council from 1978 to 1982 before being elected to the county Board of Supervisors for two terms. 

He returned to the City Council in 1992 completing two more terms before wrapping up 20 years in public service in 2000. 

Two years of Miyoshi’s time on the Board of Supervisors overlapped with the term of former county supervisor Dianne Owens, who represented Orcutt and Lompoc. 

“He was such a kind considerate man,” Owens said. “It was a great board at the time.”

Other members include Tom Rogers, Gloria Ochoa and Bill Wallace.

“It was just so civilized. We didn’t agree on everything but it was very civil,” Owens added.

During his time, Miyoshi is credited with helping restoring Waller Park in the Santa Maria Valley and closing Casmalia Resources Hazardous Waste Landfill.

“He was a great public servant,” Owens said. 

Toru Miyoshi, fourth from left, served on the Santa Maria City Council and the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, logging 20 years of public service. Click to view larger
Toru Miyoshi, fourth from left, served on the Santa Maria City Council and the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, logging 20 years of public service.  (City of Santa Maria photo)

Santa Barbara County officials also expressed sadness at Miyoshi’s death and reflected on his life.

“What impressed me the most about Toru Miyoshi was the fact that he honorably served his country during the Korean War even though his family had been forced into a concentration camp during World War II,” said Steve Lavagnino, who currently represents the Fifth District. “He was a true leader and will be greatly missed.”

Former Santa Maria Councilman Bob Orach, who served 30 years on the panel including time with Miyoshi, said they sometimes landed on the opposite side of votes, including whether to procure State Water for the Santa Maria Valley. Orach supported State Water, Miyoshi did not.

Despite their differences, Orach said of his former colleague, “He was good man.”

Miyoshi attended local schools and graduated from Butte High School while held at the Gila River War Relocation Camp in Arizona.

He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1946 and was recalled for the Korean War in 1950. 

After completing his military service, Miyoshi graduated from the University of Southern California in 1955 and married Jeanne Kojima before returning to Santa Maria in 1957.

He is survived by his wife, Jeanne; daughters, Joni Miyoshi and Lisa (David) Daum; grandchildren Laura (Douglas) Campbell and Logan (Ya) Daum, and great-grandson, Lane Akira.

An informal public visitation will be held between 10 a.m. and noon Friday at the Dudley-Hoffman Mortuary, 1003 E. Stowell Road.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Friends of Waller Park, P.O. Box 2835, Santa Maria CA 93457, or nonprofit organizations of choice.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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