OBITUARY: Ken Kasamatsu, 75; Founding father of Pacific Commerce Financial institution

In response to the tragic earthquake and tsunami in northeastern Japan in 2011, Ken Kasamatsu (far left) led the AADAP board and workers in organizing a fundraiser to assist catastrophe aid efforts. AADAP’s “Assist Japan Fund” was capable of ship over $7,800 to the Peace-Winds Japan headquarters in Tokyo. Kasamatsu not solely gave again to AADAP, however he additionally engaged the AADAP household in serving to others, one of many nice qualities he possessed that will probably be missed. (Courtesy AADAP)

By GWEN MURANAKA, Rafu Senior Editor

Ken Kasamatsu, who used his monetary acumen and volunteer spirit to uplift the Japanese and Asian American communities, handed away on July 31. He was 75.

Kasamatsu based Pacific Commerce Financial institution to satisfy the wants of the JA neighborhood, serving as its first president and chief govt officer.

He attended Maryknoll Faculty, Loyola Excessive Faculty and USC, the place he was a president and founding member of what was identified then because the USC Asian Pacific American Assist Group, which later grew to become the USC APA Alumni Affiliation.

He not too long ago established a named scholarship at USC, the Kasamatsu Household Scholarship.

“He was proud to be a Trojan,” mentioned Grace Shiba, govt director of the USC APA Alumni Affiliation. “The kind of chief he was was very thorough in all the pieces. Very open to debate issues with me and someone who was very reliable who I might open up to.”

Ken Kasamatsu at Pacific Commerce Financial institution in Little Tokyo in March 2014. (MARIO GERSHOM REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

Kasamatsu labored at Sumitomo Financial institution (later California Financial institution and Belief) for 32 years earlier than main the initiative to create what grew to become referred to as Pacific Commerce Financial institution. The financial institution opened in Little Tokyo on Oct. 10, 2002.

“I noticed in my thoughts that the assist in the neighborhood was starting to be much less. I felt due to Japanese banks leaving California that our neighborhood can be underserved. That’s why I took the possibility to start out a financial institution,” mentioned Kasamatsu in a 2017 dialog with Management Schooling for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP).

He mentioned {that a} tendency in the direction of complacency is an issue for a lot of Asian Individuals, who keep away from risk-taking due to the concern of dropping face.

“Danger-taking is doing something that takes you out of your consolation degree,” Kasamatsu defined.

He retired from the financial institution in 2014, returning once more in April 2015 to help in strategic initiatives because it merged with a similarly-sized financial institution.

After retirement he continued to work as a marketing consultant to Pacific Bridge Firms and E-Central Credit score Union, the place he targeted on nonprofits.

Tom Iino, who served as chairman of the board and director of Pacific Commerce Bancorp, praised Kasamatsu, saying, “Because the founding chairman he created a base and technique that enabled the financial institution to be the primary profitable Nikkei-owned financial institution in historical past. Pacific Commerce Financial institution acquired two different neighborhood banks, merged with a financial institution of comparable measurement and offered the entity to a big regional entity, Enterprise Monetary. For the primary time all Pacific Commerce Financial institution shareholders benefited. The neighborhood has misplaced a real chief.”

Kasamatsu devoted appreciable time and power to working with nonprofits, together with the Asian American Drug Abuse Program, the place he was board chair from 2003 to 2016, Keiro Nursing House, Japanese American Cultural and Neighborhood Heart, Little Tokyo Service Heart CDC, Boy Scouts of America (San Diego), and Nisei Week Basis.

On the Nisei Week Pioneer Spirit luncheon on Wednesday, a second of silence was noticed in tribute to Kasamatsu.

Nisei Week Basis mentioned in an announcement: “The Nisei Week Basis joins the neighborhood in mourning the passing of Ken Kasamatsu. For a few years, he supported Nisei Week not solely because the emcee for our annual Pioneer Spirit Awards Luncheon, however as a supporter each personally and thru his work at Pacific Commerce Financial institution. Ken was actually a pillar of our neighborhood and he will probably be missed dearly.”

AADAP said that Kasamatsu introduced his monetary experience to the group and in addition helped with strategic planning, board recruitment and improvement.

“Even after he retired, Ken generously gave of his time and data to help throughout the management transition from Mike Watanabe to Dean Nakanishi. He supplied one-on-one tutelage to Dean, giving him insights on the strengths and weaknesses of the group’s funds. Ken additionally all the time invited his wide-reaching community to assist AADAP, lots of whom are our leaders and supporters at present. We, his AADAP ohana, are very grateful for Ken’s companies to AADAP.”

J.D. Hokoyama, previous president and CEO of LEAP, mentioned he was mates with Kasamatsu for 70 years beginning at Maryknoll.

“I believe he picked up his sense of neighborhood spirit each from Maryknoll Faculty and Loyola Excessive Faculty. Each locations emphasised giving again to the neighborhood and repair to others as an vital ideas to reside by,” Hokoyama mentioned. “Ken cared deeply concerning the neighborhood. Ever since Ken began working for Sumitomo Financial institution (1968-2000) on the predominant workplace in Little Tokyo (now California Financial institution and Belief), he has all the time been deeply concerned within the JA and API neighborhood. He was completely happy to share his monetary and enterprise experience with many nonprofit teams re their budgeting course of and long-term monetary planning that have been situated in Little Tokyo and within the Crenshaw Sq. space whereas working on the Sumitomo department at Crenshaw Sq., which at one time was a thriving Japanese American enclave. 

“He not solely satisfied the financial institution to assist area people organizations via checking and financial savings accounts but additionally via donations to assist the mission of those teams.”

Kasamatsu was humble when he spoke of his accomplishments. He inspired the youthful generations and hoped that extra Asian Individuals would turn out to be leaders in authorities, company America and nonprofits.

“I consider I’m a loving son, husband and a father who’s making an attempt his finest to offer for his household and on the similar time attempt to give again to his neighborhood,” he mentioned.

Kasamatsu is survived by his spouse, Bonnie; daughters, Tami (Michael) Bailey and Tricia Kasamatsu; mom, Tamiye Kasamatsu; sister, Jayne (Gideon) Younger; and different relations.

As a consequence of present COVID circumstances, a Celebration of Life will probably be held within the fall.

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