8-22-21, John Takashi Iwata, 94

Beloved husband. Devoted father. Loving grandfather. We honor the life of our father, John Takashi Iwata, as our family’s “rock”, role model, and friend to many.

Born in Gardena, California on May 12, 1927, John was the third oldest child of ten American born children and the son of Hosaku and Tsugi Iwata, who had immigrated from Shizuoka, Japan in the 1920’s to establish their own farm in Lawndale, California. John was responsible for ensuring that his family was well taken care of, especially during WWII, when at 15 years old, he and his family relocated to Utah due to Executive Order 9066. After the war they returned to California, and John continued to farm and later worked at Rolling Hills Nursery.

In 1956, John started his own family when he married Sally Ann Tomomitsu, and they raised their four daughters in Torrance, California. In 1966, John fulfilled his lifetime dream to establish and open his own business. En route to a conference in Santa Barbara, he made a detour and discovered Ojai.

John built one of the first Asian-owned retail businesses in Ojai, the Iwata Garden Center and Florist. At the Center, John offered landscape and gardening services, and was a sought-after landscape contractor.

He also cultivated an acre of organically grown strawberries, enjoyed by locals and businesses (like Smuckers jam and the Village Pastry Shop), which featured them in their fresh seasonal strawberry pies. Their customers came from as far away as Los Angeles to purchase the seasonal strawberries.

He was an active member of the Ojai Rotary Club and the Ojai Lions Club. John also volunteered his time and services to help with community projects. In 1982, he received a special commendation from the Ojai Chamber of Commerce and Ventura County Board of Supervisors as the “Outstanding Man of the Year” for his exemplary community service to the Ojai community. He was also active at the Oxnard Buddhist Temple.

In 1976, he sold the Iwata Garden Center and continued his landscape and gardening business, finally retiring in 2005 at the age of 78.

John’s hobbies included singing, art, and especially deep sea fishing. He continued to enjoy performing with the Ojai Choraliers at their valley-wide recitals and attending the performance recitals for his granddaughters.

His connection to the ocean is reflected in his Buddhist name, “Shaku Chi Kai” (“Ocean of Wisdom). Many of his family and friends are reminded of John’s wonderful meals together, great sense of humor, delicious home-cured olives, and his love for his family.

In early 2015, John suffered a stroke and was moved to the Assisted Care unit at the Ojai Continuing Care Center. He made regular visits home and would join the family for special occasions and holidays. In July, John was hospitalized, and eventually succumbed to kidney failure. He peacefully passed away surrounded by his immediate family on August 22, 2021.

John is survived by his wife of 64 years, Sally Ann Iwata; his daughters, Joanna Iwata (Monterey, CA), Dr. Jan Lei Iwata (Chicago, IL), Kiku Lani Bolhius (Burbank, CA) and Kimi Römming (Ojai, CA); granddaughters, Mie and Nikki Römming, Noelani Kawashima, Keilani Bolhius; and sons-in-law, Andrew Bolhius (Burbank, CA), Bill Kawashima (Honolulu, HI) and Petter Römming (Ojai, CA); his siblings Miyeko “Pancho” Matsunaga, Betty Kishiyama, Jerilyn Patterson (Terry), Ernie Iwata, and Donald Iwata; and nieces and nephews.

To honor our family’s request, in lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made for John Iwata to Help of Ojai and Oxnard Buddhist Temple.

Obit Iwata Photo

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