He grew up in the Kaheka area, attended Queen Kaahumanu Elementary School, and graduated from Iolani School in 1948, where he starred in football and baseball under Father Kenneth A. Bray.
Tom attended and graduated from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1952, majoring in marketing.
Following his graduation, he was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, completed the Infantry Officers Training Course at Ft. Benning, Georgia, and was assigned to Ft. Lewis, Washington, serving with the 144 AAA Battalion of the 44th Division. Upon promotion to 1st Lieutenant, Tom was sent to Korea serving with the 3rd Division AAA Battalion. After the truce, he returned to Hawaii and retired from the military.
As President of the Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1962-63, Tom was awarded the Ben Dillingham Outstanding Local President Award by the Hawaii Junior Chamber of Commerce.
In January 1965, Tom was recognized by Johnson & Johnson for outstanding sales performance at the company's national convention in Miami, Florida.
He was Chairman of the Young Citizens for President Lyndon B. Johnson campaign and President of the Oahu Young Democrats.
In 1966, the Honolulu Advertiser newspaper selected Tom as one of the top four outstanding young citizens for community service and leadership abilities.
In 1967, Tom joined the State of Hawaii Department of Planning and Economic Development. In 1970, he was Project Director and Deputy Commissioner General for the Hawaii Pavilion at the World Exposition in Osaka, Japan.
In June 1984, Tom was invited to join the Hawaii Visitors Bureau as Vice President for Asia/Pacific and served at the HVB for 13 years. In September 1993, Tom was appointed President of the HVB. He retired in 1994.
On April 29, 2011, Tom was awarded the Japan's Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, from Prime Minister Naoto Kan, through the Honorable Yoshihiko Kamo, Consul General for Japan, for "many years of service fostering better relationships between Japan and Hawaii".
With the State of Hawaii and Hawaii Visitors Bureau, Tom enjoyed traveling in Japan, visiting all 47 prefectures, while promoting investment in and tourism to the islands. Among his personal accomplishments, Tom climbed Mt. Fuji five times, starting in 1989 at 59 and the last one in 1994 at age 64.
Tom's wife, Hideko, passed in 2017 at age 86. He is survived by two sons, a daughter, and four grandchildren.
Private burial services will be at the Diamond Head Memorial Park. A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers or gifts, donations may be sent to Iolani School's Advancement Office, for the Tom Sakata '48, Family Scholarship Endowment.
Arrangements Provided By:
Hosoi Garden Mortuary