Friday, December 19, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Jerry Kaneko, professor-turned-councilman, dies at 88

By
From page A1 | January 20, 2013 |

Jerry Kaneko. Courtesy photo

Jori “Jerry” Kaneko, who served the country that interned his family during World War II, then secured a place in veterinary medicine and later earned a seat on the Davis City Council, died last week. He was 88.

Kaneko suffered a massive stroke while in Berkeley on Jan. 12. He died Friday at the California Pacific Medical Center Davies Campus in San Francisco.

In 1994, Kaneko retired after more than 38 years in the School of Veterinary Medicine. He then turned his seemingly boundless energy toward Democratic politics and a dizzying array of local boards and organizations spanning service, land and water, health care and more.

“My recollection of Jerry is he always had a smile on his face, a kind word for everyone, and could slap my back harder than anyone I knew,” said Yolo Superior Court Judge Dave Rosenberg, who served with Kaneko on the City Council. Both were also members of the Odd Fellows Lodge.

While on the council, Kaneko earned a reputation for being “contemplative,” rarely tipping his hand on how he planned to vote on an issue before him.

“He would think things through,” Rosenberg said. “When other council members took positions, he held back.”

Kaneko supported the building of the Davis Commons shopping center at First and E streets, and he was the swing vote on the 3-2 decision to widen the Richards Boulevard tunnel from two to four lanes in 1996, though that was later overturned by a referendum vote.

During a discussion about widening the Mace Boulevard overpass, Kaneko blasted the plan as a “monstrosity,” sending Caltrans back to the drawing board.

He also served as the council’s liaison to the Human Relations Commission and Senior Citizens Commission.

State Sen. Lois Wolk, D-Davis, who also served on the council with Kaneko, called him “a very decent man.”

“He was generous, he was very upbeat and positive and very committed to this community, both at the university and at the city,” she said. “(He) was also so multifaceted; he had so many things going, he was so involved. Whatever he did, he went at it 100 percent.”

In 2004, the city presented Kaneko with a lifetime achievement award.

Kaneko earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry, his doctor of veterinary medicine degree and his Ph.D. in comparative biochemistry all from UCD, the last of these in 1959. He rose from lecturer to full professor, then served as chairman of the department of clinical pathology for 17 years.

He is best known for co-editing the textbook “Clinical Biochemistry of Domestic Animals.” Now in its sixth edition, it’s seen as the standard in the field, said Sean Owens, an assistant professor of clinical pathology.

“He was one of the first people in veterinary medicine in the United States to bring it to a level of sophistication that was mirroring what was going on in human medicine,” said Owens, who was the first recipient of the $10,000 Kaneko Career Development Award. “He was a scholar, he was a gentleman, he was a nice guy — he was just a classy individual.”

Owens said that when he arrived at UCD, he wore a gold earring. Some of his colleagues teased him about that.

“There’s nothing wrong with an earring,” Kaneko said one day, riding to the rescue.

Kaneko would know: He always wore a diamond stud of his own.

Born in Stockton to immigrant parents on Nov. 20, 1924, and raised on a small farm in French Camp, Kaneko, his three brothers, one sister and their parents were interned with other Japanese families on the Gila Indian Reservation in Arizona when war broke out with Japan.

Kaneko later went to Ann Arbor, Mich., where he worked as a houseboy at a hotel before joining the U.S. Army. He was among the occupying forces in Japan near the end of the war — one of several thousand Nisei, or second-generation Japanese-Americans, who served during the war.

If Kaneko had difficulty reconciling serving his country after it placed his family in an internment camp, he didn’t say so, his son Jim said.

“A lot of people in his generation didn’t express a lot of anger and that kind of thing,” said Jim, who spoke Saturday of his father’s commitment to his friends, family and the community. “It was just a matter of acceptance of his situation. He never expressed real anger. I think there was some disappointment and sadness.”

Kaneko’s first wife, Frances, died of cancer in 1974. He remarried in 1990, to his wife Teresa, an educator in the UC Davis Presents program whom he first met formally at a fundraiser for Sen. Alan Cranston, D-Calif.

“When I first encountered him, he just seemed so friendly and outgoing,” she said. “He was a guy who would do anything for anybody. If you needed something, he was there for you. He was there for me, a lot.”

Kaneko is also survived by his children, stepchildren and their spouses, Taro Kaneko and Bobbi Kaneko of Fairfield, John and Lorraine Kaneko of Kaneohe, Hawaii, Jim and Kathleen Kaneko of Davis, Richard Bynum and Jennifer Stevenson, of Evanston, Ill., and Louisa Bynum and Don Guralnick of Berkeley, seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Like Jerry, Jim, Louisa and John are veterinarians.

— Enterprise staff writers Lauren Keene and Tom Sakash contributed to this story. Reach Cory Golden at cgolden@davisenterprise.net or 530-747-8046. Follow him on Twitter at @cory_golden

Comments

comments

Cory Golden

Cory Golden

The Enterprise's higher-education and congressional reporter. http://about.me/cory_golden
  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    UCD, UC team up to study effects of climate change

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Teens’ goal? Helping other soccer players around the world

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    There’s a plate for you at the Davis Holiday Meal

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Feds release ‘framework’ to rate colleges

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Gunfire leads to DUI arrest

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    Police seek suspect in hit-and-run collision

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

    Help sought in search for runaway Davis teen

    By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

     
    Konditorei presents free holiday concert

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Welcome 2015 with Mumbo Gumbo at a gala bash

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Luminaria display planned in West Davis

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Sierra Club calendars on sale Saturday

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Creative women share food, friendship

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Blue Christmas service planned at Davis churches

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

    Willett bench is a labor of love

    By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A4

     
    Author! Author! UCD hosts talks, Q and A on Asia-focused books

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    Libraries will be closed around the holidays

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    See diving ducks at city wetlands tour

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

     
    Downtown gift cards get a new perk

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

    Meditation, Buddhism classes offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Nobel Prize winner will discuss research related to autism

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

    A home for the holidays?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

     
    Explorit: Experience nano this spring

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Traditional carols service is Saturday at St. Martin’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

     
    Supplies collected for victims of abuse

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    Grandmothers support group meets weekly

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11, 1 Comment

     
    Soup’s On will benefit NAMI-Yolo

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

    Donate to STEAC at Original Steve’s

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    .

    Forum

    He needs them to pay up

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A14

    Cheers and Jeers: Have you ever seen the rain?

    By Our View | From Page: A14

     
    Defeating Ebola involves medicine, and prayers

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A14 | Gallery

    Kudos to Central Park Gardens donors and volunteers

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A14

     
    .

    Sports

    Devil boys hold off scrappy Rio Linda

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Lady Blue Devils rout an undefeated Liberty squad

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    UCD RB coach Wright heads to Florida; what next?

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Aggies nab junior college defensive lineman

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

    Cousins is back in lineup but Kings fall

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Nostra-Dunning makes his college bowl picks

    By Bob Dunning | From Page: B2

    Tennyson’s first goal is the difference in Sharks win

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    Name droppers: Trio elected to academy of inventors

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    .

    Arts

    Tom Rigney and Flambeau to play

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

     
     
    DMTC announces auditions for ‘Sweeney Todd’

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

     
    ‘Before Midnight’ screening is tonight

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

    DMTC plans New Year’s Eve party

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A15

     
    .

    Business

    After 19 years, Alfa Romeo returns

    By Ann M. Job | From Page: A16

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Rena Sylvia Smilkstein

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6

     
    .

    Comics