"To see what is right and not to do it is cowardice." -- Confucius

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sohei Hohri

William, you are a dear brother, a listener, counselor, friend.

William Hohri was the youngest of six children.  I was William's older brother by two years.  Sitting in the audience is Takuo Hohri, William's older brother by six years.  Here are a few recollections of William's early life.

In 1930 with parents in a tuberculosis sanatorium, William and his siblings were sent to an orphanage.  The first week there, an eleven year old child kitchen worker mistakenly spooned salt instead of sugar into all the breakfast porridges.  Orphanage rule: If you don't eat up everything, you don't leave the table.  After the first taste, only William refused to eat.  He sat silently in front of the salt porridge for seven hours.  He never ate it.

In 1934, with parents cured, William, now seven, and his siblings returned home to Sierra Madre.  His favorite toys were the tool box hammer, wrench, screwdriver, pliers.  William carefully took apart things around the house, and carefully put them together again.  His greatest challenge: the wind-up alarm clock with its spring and many finely balanced gears.

In 1942, William, now 14, was a lead gymnast at North Hollywood High School.  He performed with sure, powerful skill.

In the late 1940's, his university years, William met several unusual teachers.  From memory, I recite the words of two.
Robert Maynard Hutchins: Feel free. Love truth. Be fearless. Speak truth, clear, short, to the point.
Reinhold Niebuhr: Man has been wounded by the arrows of God. Man's knowledge is ever incomplete, his moral vision often blurred.  Still man's duty remains the continuing struggle for social justice.

Return to 1934. William attends his very first Christian church service.  Now the Sunday school hour is over.  Now all the children reassemble.  Now all lift their voice in the hymn, "Work for the night is coming, when man's work is done."

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