On Nov. 20, Frank Sasaki Jr. passed away due to complications from spinal stenosis, a degenerative disease caused by the narrowing of his spine.
Sasaki was an active volunteer in Lodi, where he was born on Aug. 27, 1956. He served as an auxiliary board member for the Lodi CrimeStoppers, sat on the board of directors for the Lodi Police Foundation and the Lodi Memorial Hospital Foundation, volunteered with the Salvation Army and was instrumental in the creation of the Lodi House shelter for homeless women and children.
“He was someone who stayed behind the scenes, but always helped,” his daughter Tiffany Sasaki said.
In addition to his volunteerism, Sasaki was proud to announce he had sold the first cellphone in Lodi at his business SakTel, and he helped to run the family business, Sak's TV and Home Furnishings, for many years.
Sasaki's friends and family said he began getting more involved in giving back to the community after the passing of his father Frank Sasaki Sr., who left a legacy as impressive as his son. That's when Frank Sasaki Jr. took up his father's position as a board member at Lodi Memorial. It's a tradition of service he has passed on to his children.
The Lodi Memorial Hospital Foundation board called him a champion for improving donor relations, new technology and communications.
“I remember my dad always took us to the Salvation Army to serve meals, especially on Thanksgiving. My brother and I were 7 or 8 years old, and he made sure we helped,” Frank Sasaki III said.
Sasaki III remembers growing up in a humble three-bedroom house in Stockton, but said his dad was always volunteering his time and giving his attention to anyone who needed help. He was also quick to get his family involved.
“When my dad created Lodi House, he asked me and my brother to help move the furniture for the house, and carry it inside,” he said.
Brandon Sasaki, another of Sasaki's sons, recalls volunteering alongside his father as he helped to establish Lodi House.
“My dad always gave, and he never asked for anything, and even in his last days when he was sick, he would go to the skilled nursing facility and visit his aunties,” Brandon said.
According to Sasaki III, his father never looked for recognition for what he did. He never received any compensation. He just loved to help people.
His kids were unaware of the many organizations their father volunteered for until his passing last month.
“I remember when my dad was sick he would ask me to take him places and have me drop him off at meetings, and I would not know where we were going or why,” Tiffany said.
Tiffany helped to care for her father as his illness worsened, and recalls Sasaki always telling her how much he appreciated her. He never stopped thanking her for helping take care of him.
Tiffany never felt burdened by helping her father, she said. Instead, she embraced the opportunity to be with him as his condition deteriorated slowly.
The many people who knew Sasaki remembered him for his kindness and generosity. He was very creative and clever, and he would utilize those skills to help people around him, his sister Kathy Sasaki said.
“He used to always say if he had a million dollars he would buy a piece of land and create a designated space for homeless families and help them build their lives,” she said.
Jack Johal, Sasaki's friend since he was 4 years old, said he was cut from a different cloth -- and he was never the person to say "no."
“He was the most reliable person and most special person you could ever meet,” Johal said.
Johal, who suffers lupus, can recall the times he would call Sasaki for a ride to the hospital. They would joke about who would die first, he said, because they both feared losing their best friend.
“Frankie was my brother. We knew everything about each other, and (he) was the most reliable person you could ever count on. He always looked to go above and beyond,” Johal said.
Johal helped Sasaki develop Lodi House, and worked with Sasaki as he pursued various projects and ventures.
“If he ever needed a donation for an organization, he would call me and I would donate, and I would do it because it was Frankie,” he said.
Lodi has lost a remarkable member of its community, Johal added. No one else can mirror his legacy and his impact, he said.
Sasaki's children echoed that sentiment, and hope to follow in the footsteps of their father.
“I have a son now, and I want to teach my son what my father taught me, and keep the tradition going,” Sasaki III said.
In addition to his three children, Sasaki is survived by his siblings David, Kathy and Kelly. He was preceded in death by his wife, Doris, and his parents, Frank and Joyce.
A celebration of his life will be held at 1 p.m. Jan. 5 at the Quail Lakes Baptist Church. The community is invited to attend.