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Isao Hamanaka

Posted 2019-05-08 by Pat R
East Bay Times (California)
Sunday, April 21, 2019

Dr. Isao Hamanaka
Resident of Walnut Creek, California

Dr. Isao Hamanaka, 75, died on March 31, 2019, after a 5-year battle with cancer.

He leaves behind his daughter Lisa Hamanaka Ellsworth; his son Kevin Hamanaka; his extended family Carolyn Saito, Barbara Saito, Frederick Ellsworth, Tanya Hamanaka, and Richard Matsutani; four grandchildren; his sister Haruko Ninomiya; and many dear friends from his childhood. He was preceded in death by his brother, Mitsuo Hamanaka.

Born into the Japanese internment camp at Rivers, Arizona, he was the youngest child of Mitsugu and Kazue (Kobata) Hamanaka. When the camp was dismantled, the family returned to Fresno where Isa formed life-long friendships that would endure for more than half a century. He always excelled in school, graduating from Mt. Diablo High School in 1961. He went on to receive a Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of California Medical Center, San Francisco in 1967.

He opened his dental practice in Concord, California in 1969 and loyally served his patients and the community for 34 years. He took pride in how he chose to run his practice--guided by honesty, hard work, a sense of humor, and a commitment to putting his patients' best interests ahead of everything else. He retired from dentistry in 2003 so that he could pursue fishing and spend time with his grandchildren.

Isa thoroughly enjoyed his retirement. He spent much of his free time trying to outsmart fish in Northern California rivers such as Klamath, Eel, Gualala, or the lakes around Tahoe. He also took up golf and approached it in the same way that he approached dentistry and fishing--as a problem solver, with the determination to constantly analyze and improve his game!

His other passion was his grandchildren: Emily, Ashley, Claire, and Lincoln. In his final years, he was able to travel with their families to Boston, Costa Rica, Mexico, and throughout California. These were some of his most cherished memories. He was a loving and generous "Granddaddy" who was always ready to join his grandkids in whatever interested them.

A private memorial service will be held for the immediate family in the Lake Tahoe area. Memorial contributions may be made to Trout Unlimited or Keep Tahoe Blue.




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