Ben Tsujikawa passed away at home on September 20, 2019 in Auburn, WA at the age of 83 years. He was born on May 23, 1936 in Auburn, WA, the son of Torakichi (Tony) and Miyoko Tsujikawa. Beloved by his family, he is survived by his daughters, Lisa Tsujikawa Noji and Darcy Tsujikawa; grandsons, Kai Gammons and Benjamin Sanders; sister, Ida Tsujikawa Zodrow; his life partner, Sandra Fuller, and numerous nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; brother, George; sister, Grace Tsujikawa-Boyd; and his son Michael Tsujikawa.
Ben was a lifelong resident of Auburn, WA and worked alongside his father at the Auburn Pottery Company. He succeeded his father as owner and operator until 1975 when the pottery was closed. He then began a second and successful career with Segale Properties starting in the shop as a machinist and then became the Portable Asphalt Plant Operator for 25 years. He was involved in major paving projects throughout the Northwest and Alaska. If you have driven on a highway in the State of Washington, it was probably on asphalt produced in the Auburn Plant.
Ben was a modest man, but one who took pride in a job well done. He was known for excellence in his profession, able to efficiently and effectively solve complex mechanical and logistical problems. This made him indispensable to his company. He uniquely combined both artistic and technical skills. He designed and built machinery and could repair almost anything. He was always generous in sharing his knowledge and time, giving a helping hand to anyone needing it.
In his retirement, Ben combined his unique skills to design and build furniture and restored one of his most treasured projects, his father’s 1913 White truck. This truck was used in the early days of the Auburn Pottery to deliver pots in the Northwest and once was driven in the Auburn Good Old Days Parade. Having a lifelong desire to restore the truck and honor his father, Ben meticulously completed the restoration over a three year period. The wooden C cab and bed rotted over time and was restored by memory and old photos. He used his mechanical skills to repair the engine and driveline chassis to working order once again and there were countless details and original parts that needed complete restoration. The time and energy he spent working on it was truly a labor of love. The truck is a work of art.
He loved to fish! Ben and Sandy moored the boat at the Point Defiance boathouse for over 20 years and they fished every chance they could. He fished many Northwest rivers, lakes, the Sound and took boats and planes into Alaska and Canada for the adventure and the catch. He was a superb steelhead and salmon fisherman, catching not one, but two 24 pound steelhead – one in the Quinault and one in the Green River. He loved to show his grandsons how to the catch the big ones and not to tangle their line.
At Ben’s request, there will not be a funeral service, but a celebration of his life to be held at the Sanders Estate, 5516 S. 277th Street, Kent, WA on October 20, 1 pm.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances of Ben may be made to the Parkinson’s Foundation or the American Lung Association.