Gene Asai passed away peacefully at the age of 86, on Oct. 18, 2012, in Portland, from complications related to Alzheimer’s disease. He was born July 1, 1926, to Sagoro and Matsu (Ito) Asai, of Hood River, Ore., where he was raised. He graduated from Heart Mountain High School located in the World War II Relocation Center near Cody, Wyo. Upon his release, he enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving in the Military Intelligence Service language school.
In 2011, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the nation’s highest civilian award. Gene attended Oregon State College (graduating 10 years before it became OSU) earning his B.S. in chemical engineering in 1951. His entire career was spent at the Albany Research Center at the U.S. Bureau of Mines in Albany, Ore., earning international recognition, numerous awards and publishing a variety of papers for his research on chromium and metal alloys. He retired from the Bureau in 1992.
In 1953 he married Barbara Eileen Jackson from Brownsville, Ore. They divorced in 1981.
Gene loved sports and outdoor activities, especially golf, tennis, fishing and dancing. He was an active member of the American Legion and the Eagles. He very much enjoyed watching his OSU Beavers play and often sported his alma mater attire.
Gene is survived by his sons, Rickland Asai, of Portland; Rodger Asai, of Albany; and his daughter, Bonnie Trumbull, of Lake Oswego; four grandchildren and one great-grandson; two sisters: Mika Hiuga, of Ontario, and Mitsuko (Mitzi) Loftus, of Ashland; and numerous nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews.
His four brothers, Taro (Tot), Masami (Min), Itsuo (Dick), Masaki (Half), sister Masako, and son Randy preceded him in death.
A celebration of Gene’s life will be held Saturday, Dec. 22, at 1 p.m. at the Oswego Heritage House located at 398 10th St. in downtown Lake Oswego. All are invited to attend.
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