July 03, 1936 - September 04, 2009
Remembered for his wit, generosity and ever present smile
Born in Seattle on July 3, 1936 to Mifuye (Ota) and Charles Erabu Mikami. He died peacefully on the afternoon of September 4, 2009 after a short but heroic battle with cancer. He is survived by his loving wife of 47 years, Kris, daughter Kish (Craig) Lindberg, sons Matthew (Aulia) and Josh and grandchildren, Ayden, Orion and Everly. He is also survived by older brother Harry (Hiroko), sister June (Frank) Crane and younger brother Dean, and many nieces and nephews.
After the war and residing in three internment camps (Pinedale, Tule Lake & Topaz), the family relocated to Coyote, California, to the Ota Family farm. The family finally settled in Morgan Hill, California, where he graduated from Morgan Hill High School in 1954. He continued his pursuit of higher learning on a scholarship at the University of California at Berkeley, graduating with a degree in Architecture after rejecting the initial idea of a degree in pharmacy. He was a member of Ridge House Coop and played the sousaphone for both the CAL Marching band and the CAL Straw hat band, as a former member of the band he was invited and went to the 1958 Brussels World’s Fair.
In 1962 he married Kris and shortly thereafter started his family. He continued to work full time, while completing his degree before moving to Seattle in 1967. He loved his work as an architect, which began at the firm of Naramore Bain Brady and Johanson (NBBJ) and then at Okamoto Liskam. He joined Jones & Jones in the 70’s where he began his career in the zoo biz, some of those zoos are in Seattle, San Diego, Japan, Hawaii, Detroit and many others. The family relocated to San Diego for a few years where he was the project manager on the Tiger River project at the World Famous San Diego Zoo. He continued his career by becoming a partner with the firm Sherman, Yanez & Mikami, some of the projects they worked on included the redesign of the zoo Master Plan of Chapultepec Park in Mexico City and other exhibits in Australia and Singapore. His career included varied projects including the RH Thompson Freeway project, the Model Cities Project, Clearwater Resource Recreation Plan in Idaho, Rapid Transit and the Minidoka Historic Site for the National Park System. He and Kris spent 1.5 years in Saint Germaine en Laye (Paris), where Kris worked while he pursued a variety of activities, including champagne grape picker, student of the French language and un-official tour guide to visiting family and friends – where he became known for his “unintentional deviations” (unexpected detours aka lost). After enjoying a few years of being retired and consulting or as he referred to as being “under-employed,” he rejoined the firm of Jones and Jones, where he proudly enjoyed his title as the Analog Architect. His varied career has included draftsman, home engineer, kayak builder, and bunk bed designer and builder.
He enjoyed many activities, including – road trips, traveling, hiking, camping, bowling, skiing, rock climbing, and volley ball to name a few. Even more, he enjoyed spending time with his family and friends, which involved many gatherings both small and large – mochi pounding, Japanese New Years Parties, BBQs, the dinner club, the black mug society, and more recently cooking.
He will be remembered by many for his wit, generosity and his ever present smile.
UPDATE: Please be sure to visit Kai's Guestbook Memorial and read the beautiful tribute posted Wednesday 9/16/09 by Jerome Diepenbrock, a dear colleague and friend of Kai's.
Kai's memorial service will be held Saturday October 24th at 2:00 at Saint Clement of Rome Episcopal Church, 1501 32nd Avenue S, Seattle, WA 98144.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Kai’s name to the Woodland Park Zoo, 605 North 59th Street, Seattle, Washington 98103 or to the Wing Luke Museumin support of his father, Suiko Mikami’s artwork, 719 South King Street, Seattle, Washington 98104.
Just as the Wave Cannot Exist
Just as the wave cannot exist for itself, but is ever a part of the heaving surface of the ocean, so must I never live my life for itself, but always in the experience which is going on around me. It is an uncomfortable doctrine which the true ethics whisper into my ear. You are happy, they say; therefore you are called upon to give much.
Looking into the portals of eternity
Looking into the portals of eternity teaches that the brotherhood of man is inspired by God's word; Then all prejudice of race vanishes away.