ROBERT NOBUICHI KATAYAMA
October 11, 1924 August 14, 2011
Soldier, Lawyer, and Businessman
Robert “Bob,” one of the original residents of Kahala Nui retirement community, died at age 86 at the VA Center for Aging. Bob followed the tradition of many veterans of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team whose achievements have been especially broad as he enjoyed three full careers in the military, in law, and in business, living up to the moniker as a member of “The Greatest Generation.”
Born in Kalihi, Bob began military service when as an 18-year old senior at Farrington High School, he volunteered for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team. Following World War II, Bob earned a BA at the University of Hawaii and went on to Yale Law School but was recalled to active duty as a Reserve officer during the Korean War. After graduating from Yale, Bob entered the Regular Army in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps to make the military his first career. Bob later obtained his LL.M from the George Washington Law School and became a professor teaching government procurement law at the JAG School at the University of Virginia. His last Army service included assignment as the Staff Judge Advocate of the XXIV Army Corps in DaNang, South Vietnam. Beginning as a rifleman in Company F of the 442nd Infantry and ending as the Staff Judge Advocate of the U.S. Army Pacific, Bob retired after 20 years of active duty. Along the way, he received 24 Army decorations and awards, including three Legion of Merit, a Bronze Star, two Purple Hearts, a Meritorious Service, two Army Commendation medals, and a Combat Infantryman’s Badge as well as service medals for WWII, the Korean and Vietnam Wars, two Presidential Unit Citations and a Meritorious Unit Commendation badge.
Private law practice became Bob’s second career when he joined Baker & McKenzie, America’s largest law firm, practicing in Chicago, Tokyo, and San Francisco. Then, after a 37-year absence from Hawaii, Bob joined the Carlsmith Ball law firm, retiring from practice in 2004. Meanwhile, Bob’s third career began in 1996 when he accepted a “dream job” as the Chairman and CEO of the Kapolei Golf Course and then became President of the Kapolei Holding Corporation.
Bob’s volunteer activities mirrored his professional accomplishments including leadership positions in the 442nd Veterans Club, the Oahu AJA Veterans Council, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team Foundation, the National Japanese American Memorial Foundation, the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, Hawaii’s Advisory Council to the Japanese American National Museum, the Hawaii Army Museum Society, the National Japanese American Historical Society (formerly, Go For Broke, Inc.), and the Kahala Nui Resident Association Council. As an avid supporter of the University of Hawaii, Bob served on the Dean’s Advisory Council of the Richardson School of Law, the Hawaii Nikkei History Editorial Board for the book, Japanese Eyes – American Hearts, the Planning Committee of “Universal Values in a Democratic Society, Nisei Veterans Endowed Forum Series,” and was a recipient of a UH Golden Scholar Award in 2000 and an UHAA Distinguished Alumni Award in 2001.
Bob is survived by his wife: Jeanne; children: Alyce Jenkins, Robert Jr., and Kent; Jeanne’s children: Susan Ono, Carole Kaneshiro, and Wendy Lee; and nine grandchildren. A private family service was held at Hosoi Garden Mortuary. In lieu of flowers or koden, please consider making a donation to your favorite charity.