Yutaka Joseph Hirayama passed away November 3, 2018, in Federal Way, Washington. He was born August 24, 1935 in Tokyo, Japan, but was a resident of Auburn, Washington for 36 years.
He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Etsuko, son Patrick (Donna) of Seattle, daughter Tina Wong (Grant), grandchildren Ciara and Kana Wong, all of Renton, and brother Yuji Hirayama, sisters Sachiko Ando (Naoji) and Yoko Hirayama, all of Japan.
He graduated from Seattle University in 1960 with a Bachelor in Commercial Science. He attended graduate school at the University of Washington, but had to withdraw and return to Japan when his father became ill. While in Seattle, he met his future wife, Etsuko Tamaki. They married in 1966, and eventually decided to live in the US. He worked at Northwest Airlines for 31 years with positions in passenger sales in New York and Chicago, and cargo sales in Seattle. Upon returning to Seattle, he was active in the local Japanese-American community, serving on the boards of Seattle Japanese Language School, Japanese Community Service, and Nippon Kan Heritage Association, as well as president for both the Seattle Japanese Language School and Japanese Community Service. He was awarded The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, from the Emperor of Japan in 2005. A believer in lifelong learning, he embodied this personally by taking Mandarin Chinese and watercolor painting classes at Highline Community College after retirement. He enjoyed traveling, cruising, classical music, opera, painting, watching the Seattle Mariners and spending time with his family.
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Joe was a many faceted man, He always had a project of some kind that always interested and included me. I shall miss him.
Joe was a man to respect, and i did. It was a pleasure to know and work with him while i was in Seattle.
Joe was a friend and coworker at Northwest Airlines. He was a pleasure to be with. My condolences to the family.
Joe was one of the nicest, most gentle people I had the privilege of knowing at NWA. His kind demeanor will not be forgotten. Rest in eternal peace, Joe. My condolences to your family.
Hirayama-san is father of my dearest fiend, Tina, but he is also like my father in the US. I'm remembering so many memories, especially traveling together.
He is kind and knowledgeable gentleman who I really respect. I really enjoyed his sense of humor and will really miss him.
With deepest sympathy.
Dear Tina, Grant, Ciara, and Kana,
I am very sorry for your loss.
Love and Prayers, Diane Yee and family.
Rest in peace Joe.
Todd Anderson and Karen Tanaka
Joe was one of my very favorites at NW Cargo. He was always kind, friendly and had such a gentle soul. We kept in touch after he retired and met for lunch once and he shared his paintings. I sent him birthday cards over the years and we exchanged Xmas cards. He always sent pictures of his family and was so proud of them all. I will treasure my memories and miss him as I am sure many will.
Joe was one of my favorite people at NWA...always pleasant and polite. My prayers for comfort and peace are with his family during this difficult time.
Joe was one of the kindest men I've ever met. He was a great agent and friend to do many during his years in Seattle. My sympathies go out to the entire family. How will be greatly missed.
I was Joe’s Secretary in Cargo. He was always kind, professional and a real joy to work with. God bless his memory and condolences to his family.
Joe was a joy to work with. Had a great sense of humor. I was a CSA and BRAC union rep for the agents and RSA even though most us that worked snd knew Joe are retired he will be missed. JJ
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