Frank H. Ogawa

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Frank H. Ogawa
Occupy Oakland Nov 12 2011 PM 28.jpg
City Councilmember, Oakland, California
In office
Succeeded by Henry Chang, Jr.
Member, Oakland Park Commission
In office
Member, San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission
In office
Member, Bay Area Air Quality Management District Board
In office
January 1979 – December 1992
Personal details
Born Hirao Ogawa
(1917-05-17)May 17, 1917
Lodi, California
Died July 13, 1994(1994-07-13) (aged 77)
Oakland, California
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Grace Ogawa (née Hiruma)
Children Alan and Nancy
Occupation Nursery operator

Frank Hirao Ogawa (May 17, 1917 – July 13, 1994[1]) was a civil rights leader[2] and the first Japanese American to serve on the Oakland City Council,[3] of which he was a member from 1966 until his death in 1994.[4][5] Upon his death, the Oakland City Council voted unanimously to rename City Hall Plaza in his honor as Frank H. Ogawa Plaza. The plaza displays a bronze bust of Ogawa.

A Nisei, Ogawa was born in Lodi, California[6] and never lived in Japan. Nevertheless, as Japanese Americans, Ogawa's family members were involuntarily relocated by the U.S. government to the Topaz War Relocation Center in Millard County, Utah; they were detained there for the duration of World War II.[7] Ogawa married Grace Ogawa (née Hiruma) prior to their wartime detention and they had two children, Alan and Nancy. Nancy was born in the Topaz War Relocation Center but died at age 2.[8]

After the war, Ogawa returned to Oakland where he found work as a gardener. Eventually, he borrowed and saved enough money to open his own nursery.[5][8]

When Ogawa died, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo, in her Tribute to Frank H. Ogawa, said:

"Frank Ogawa was a remarkable person because he could take personal misfortune and turn it into a positive learning experience for himself and others. When Frank and Grace Ogawa were forced to sell their belongings and live in internment camps during World War II, they had to sleep on straw mattresses in horse stalls for six months before being shipped to a camp in Utah to spend another 3 1/2 years in confinement. Despite this mistreatment and injustice, he never lost faith in the United States. Just the opposite--he strived to prove his loyalty to his country and became an internationally recognized champion of Asian-Americans in the process."[2]

She went on to say

"Having served five years on the Oakland Parks Commission, Frank Ogawa was elected to the city council in 1966, making him the first Japanese-American to hold a council seat in a major city in the continental United States. He held that position for 28 years until his passing -- the longest tenure in Oakland's history."

Ogawa was a member of the San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) from 1972 to 1988, having been appointed to the Commission by the Association of Bay Area Governments.

Ogawa served on the Bay Area Air Quality Management District Board of Directors from 1979 until 1992 when he had to retire from the Board because of health issues. He served as Chairman of the Board during most of 1987 and served as Chair and Vice-Chair of the Board's Executive Committee and Personnel Committee.

Ogawa was a Republican.[9] However, he never held nor was he ever a candidate for any partisan office.

As a public official, Ogawa was known as kind, optimistic, and adept at building consensus.[10]

In about December 1988, Ogawa underwent successful heart surgery.[11]

Ogawa died in Oakland on July 13, 1994, of lung cancer.[12] He was survived by his wife Grace and son Alan, and by two grandchildren, Courtney and Matthew.[8]

More than 600 people, including a representative of Oakland's sister city of Fukuoka, Japan, attended Ogawa's memorial service.[10]

Frank H. Ogawa bust in the former City Hall Plaza (now named for him), Oakland, CA


  1. ^ "Frank Ogawa Individual Record - U.S. Social Security Death Index". FamilySearch. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
  2. ^ a b Eshoo, Anna (1994-07-21). "TRIBUTE TO FRANK H. OGAWA". Congressional Record Volume 140, Number 96. United States House of Representatives. Archived from the original on 2011-11-11. Retrieved 2011-11-10. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to pay tribute to Frank Ogawa--a dedicated public servant, outstanding civil rights leader, and loving husband and father--who passed away earlier this month in Oakland, California.
  3. ^ "Oakland History Timeline". City of Oakland, Oakland History Room of the Oakland Public Library. Archived from the original on 2011-11-11. Retrieved 2011-11-10.
  4. ^ Lowenthal, Abraham F.; Pacific Council on International Policy (2009-02-25). Global California: rising to the cosmopolitan challenge. Stanford University Press. p. 64. ISBN 978-0-8047-6227-4. Retrieved 2011-11-10. Lay summary. Frank Ogawa, also Japanese American, served twenty-eight years on the Oakland City Council. Foreword by Kevin Starr
  5. ^ a b Allen, Annalee; Lee, Sam. Oakland City Center: Frank H. Ogawa Statue (video). Archived from the original on 2011-11-12. Retrieved 2011-11-11.
  6. ^ Cacas, Samuel R. (1994-07-22). "Oakland Councilman Ogawa Dead At 77". AsianWeek. Archived from the original on 2016-01-14. Retrieved 2011-11-11. Born in Lodi, Calif.
  7. ^ "U.S. National Archives: Japanese-American Internee Data File for Frank Ogawa". Retrieved 2011-10-30.
  8. ^ a b c Wilson, Yumi (1994-07-14). "Oakland Councilman Ogawa Dies of Cancer at Age 77". San Francisco Chronicle – via Factiva. Mr. Ogawa made front-page news in Tokyo in April 1966 when he became the first Japanese American to hold a council seat in a major city in the continental United States, according to his son, Alan Ogawa.
  9. ^ Wilson, Lionel; Morris, Gabrielle (2010-08-09). Attorney, Judge, and Oakland Mayor: Oral History Transcript / 1992. BiblioBazaar. ISBN 978-1-177-09841-0. Retrieved 2011-11-09. After the Democrats won control of Oakland city government in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Spees and Frank Ogawa were the only two Republicans remaining on the City Council. Introduction by Edward J. Blakely
  10. ^ a b Lee, Henry K. (1994-07-26). "Frank Ogawa Remembered as Able, Kind". San Francisco Chronicle – via Factiva. More than 600 people, including a representative of Oakland's sister city of Fukuoka, Japan, gathered for the memorial service at the Oakland Museum Garden to share anecdotes and fond memories of Ogawa, who died of lung cancer July 13 at age 77.
  11. ^ "Wa Sung Service Club Monthly Newsletter". Oakland, California: Wa Sung Service Club. January 1989. p. 2. Archived from the original on 2016-01-14. Retrieved 2011-11-09. Our member and city councilman, Frank Ogawa, has undergone a successful heart operation and is resting and recuperating at home. He says he is all stapled up and feeling fine.
  12. ^ "Passages". The Seattle Times. 1994-07-24. Retrieved 2011-11-08. Frank Ogawa, 77, the longest-serving member of the Oakland, Calif., City Council (28 years), July 13 in Oakland of lung cancer.