October 16, 1922 – September 22, 2022
Thomas Hikida was born to Frank Yohei and Emma Hatsu Hikida in Auburn, Washington on Oct. 16, 1922. He passed away on Sep. 22, 2022 in Auburn.
Tom entered the University of Washington in 1941. His studies were interrupted by World War II; after Pearl Harbor, he and many other Japanese Americans were sent to Tule Lake internment camp. The University awarded honorary degrees to Tom and other classmates sent to the camp in 2008, 67 years later.
Tom served in the US Army before the war ended. On his way to Italy with the 442nd Battalion, he was reassigned to military intelligence. However, he received a medical discharge and eventually returned to Auburn. In 1947 he reenlisted in the Army and worked as a field intelligence agent for the US Military in Japan. There he met his wife Beatrice Mitsunaga, a native of Hawaii who worked as a billeting manager for the Army. They were married in 1949. After leaving intelligence, Tom continued to work as a hotel manager for the military and was in charge of the hotels division in the Pacific.
Tom returned again to Auburn in 1960 and owned both the Oriental Gift Shop and Tobe’s Drive In Restaurant. He worked at these and other jobs in Auburn until he retired in 1982. He volunteered for numerous or- ganizations, including the White River Museum and the Auburn Food Bank. As a 33rd degree Mason, he worked with their youth group, the DeMolay International.
Before World War II, the Japanese American community donated a set of pole lamps to Auburn High School. When Cascade Junior High School was torn down, Tom led the effort to save and rededicate the lamps to the new Auburn High School.
Tom was preceded in death by his loving wife of 60 years, Beatrice Hikida, and his sister Pearl Okura. He is survived by his daughter Diane and her partner Don Martin, his son Vernon, his son Vincent and wife Yukie, and their two sons Christopher and Jason.
In lieu of flowers or “koden,” please make a donation to the White River Valley Museum or your favorite charity. For the online version of this obituary, please see the Price-Helton website. (PriceHeltonFuneralHome.com).