Mr. Gary Yamauchi - Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays
Mr. Gary Yamauchi is a third generation Japanese American and was born in Chicago, Illinois. After World War II, his family settled in Gardena, California. He developed a passion for bowling as a youth, turning professional at age 15, and in 1962 was named “Junior Bowler of the Year.” In 1973 he became the first Asian American member of the Southern California All Professional Team, and competed nationally in tournaments. After retiring from professional bowling, he worked in various ventures such as real estate and in 1990 founded vending machine company Tri-Star Vending in the City of Alhambra. Mr. Yamauchi plays a major role in supporting the social rehabilitation of disadvantaged youth in the region through employing 25 percent of his staff from Homeboy Industries, an organization which helps the formerly incarcerated in recovery.
From the late 1990s, Mr. Yamauchi has been actively involved in volunteerism. This was triggered by research of his first generation grandfather’s Japanese roots and subsequent discovery of his lineage to the samurai Yamauchi family, which led to his visiting Japan to meet his relatives in Kirishima, Kagoshima Prefecture. This further deepened his commitment to involvement in the Japanese American community.
In 2004 Mr. Yamauchi was elected to the Alhambra City Council, and has served as mayor three times since 2007. Upon becoming the first Japanese American mayor in Alhambra, he proposed the formation of a sister city relationship with Kirishima, and in July 2007 the Mayor of Kirishima visited Alhambra. In October of that same year, the sister city relationship was started. In October 2016, Mr. Yamauchi led the effort to plant three cherry blossom trees at the City of Alhambra to commemorate and further the sister city relationship, marked by a special ceremony.
Mr. Yamauchi has also strongly supported the Go For Broke National Education Center, and has served as a boardmember for ten years, helping to share the story of Japanese American World War II veterans with the wider community. In 2015, upon Mr. Yamauchi’s proposal, the City of Alhambra entered a float featuring Go For Broke veterans in the Pasadena Rose Parade. The float was selected to ride at the front of the parade procession, bringing the experiences and contributions of the Japanese American veterans to a national audience.
In 2004, the Alhambra Chamber of Commerce awarded Mr. Yamauchi the “Citizen of the Year Award.” Through his many years of dedication to service, he has contributed greatly to the regional community’s sense of trust of Japanese Americans and affinity towards Japan, working tirelessly as a supporter of charitable and non-profit organizations.