Alan Masaharu Tokugawa


Alan Masaharu Tokugawa

January 18, 1944 - March 31, 2023

Alan Masaharu Tokugawa passed away peacefully at his home in Fairfax, CA on March 31,2023, at the age of 79 after a courageous struggle with cancer.  

Alan was born during WWII in the Japanese American Amache Relocation Camp, Colorado, to John and Tsuuko Tokugawa on January 18, 1944. After the war the family moved to Denver to readjust to normalcy. In 1947, the family relocated to Seattle, Washington, where Alan began to discover his lifelong love of academic learning as well as his budding interest in many fields of art and creativity. As a child in the mid 1950’s Alan developed a love of music and at that time began playing the accordion. As a teenager, and after the family’s move to San Francisco in 1959, Alan, along with his brother Jerry, joined the Shinsei Band in San Francisco’s Japan Town playing Japanese popular music. The Band played throughout California, and when famous pop singers from Japan came to San Francisco the Shinsei Band would serve as their backup band.In addition to Japanese music Alan had a special affinity for Christmas holiday music and many other types of music including country western and opera. At the time of the family’s move to San Francisco Alan was a junior in high school and at George Washington High School Alan excelled in math and the sciences and became a member of the Honor Society. While attending George Washington, Alan enrolled in the ROTC program achieving the rank of Captain and serving on the school’s drill team. After graduation, Alan’s quest for learning led him to City College of San Francisco and subsequently to the University of California in Berkeley where he graduated with a degree in Architecture. 

Alan began his architectural career with the San Francisco firm of Backen, Arrigoni & Ross where he became a vice president and attained his architect’s license. While a vice president of the firm Alan was involved in numerous and widespread architectural projects including Skywalker Ranch in Marin County, California; ski resorts in Keystone, Colorado; as well as civic and medical buildings, apartment complexes; and private residences throughout the Bay Area and California. Alan was valued for his superb drafting skills and the clarity and meticulousness of his work.  

In 1989 Alan decided to leave architecture and joined the City and County of San Francisco Department of Building Inspection as Building Inspector where he was highly respected for his construction, electrical, and architectural knowledge. He advanced in his position eventually achieving the rank of Senior Building Inspector and Building Codes Analyst. During this time Alan became a member of the San Francisco Chapter Construction Specifications Institute (CSI), a not-for-profit association which, among other endeavors, mentors and supports young architecture students. Alan served with distinction for many years as an officer ofthe organization, receiving many awards and accolades for his contributions. Additional appreciations of Alan’s accomplishments came from San Francisco’s Mayor Gavin Newsom,who on February 20, 2009, awarded Alan a Certificate of Honor citing Alan’s “..most impressive and remarkable knowledge, intelligence, and interpersonal sensitivity.” Mayor Newsom furtherstated, “You have played an invaluable role in protecting the public safety and well-being of the City’s residents while fully supporting and implementing green building and sustainability initiatives.” On the same date San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu issued a Proclamation declaring February 20, 2009, as “Alan Tokugawa Day in San Francisco”.

In addition to his highly successful professional career Alan enjoyed many other pursuits, both creative and personal,which afforded him great inner satisfaction and helped him to develop his deeply kind, generous, and nurturing philosophy of life with which he gifted everyone who knew him. Alan achieved these qualities through his long and serious study of several pathwaysof spirituality as well as his study and work as a State certified California Massage Therapist specializing in integrative healing massage therapy. His clients benefitted physically, mentally, and emotionally from his compassionate and nurturing work. This very significant aspect of his life helped Alan to recognize and embrace his own deep spirituality and became, in his last months, the major factor that helped him to endure his illness with equanimity and acceptance.One friend, expressing his sympathy, said of Alan,“Everytime I met him I was always struck by Alan’s warmth and kindness. He had a calming presence about himself that always made him very pleasant to be around.”Live on, our dearest Alan!  

Alan is survived by his brother Jerry Tokugawa (Diane) of Bend, Oregon, nieces Dawn Rowe (Tim) of Spokane, Washington and Kai Tokugawa (Nate Springer) of Bend, Oregon, and great nephews Jaden and Izaiah Rowe, Dylan Springer, and many cousins.

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