Frank Kura Yama, 1922 ~ 2013
Jan 02, 2014 | 5735 views | 0 0 comments | 100 100 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Frank Kura Yama (Yamaguchi), longtime resident and respected businessman of Moab, Utah, left this life on Sunday Dec. 23, 2013. He was 91 years old.

He was born Oct. 28, 1922, in Oak Creek, Colo., to Kuranosuki and Edna Johns Yamaguchi. He had two older sisters, Francis and Kathryn, and a younger brother, James, who died in infancy.

Frank spent the majority of his early life working in his father’s grocery store. He remembered plucking over 50 chickens (which had been ordered) every Saturday night for people’s Sunday dinners for many years. He was not so fond of eating chicken and typically ordered beef.

He graduated from Oak Creek High School as the salutatorian of his class, unable to be recognized as the valedictorian because of his Japanese ancestry, having excelled in academics, athletics and band. Following graduation he enrolled in the Horological Institute of America (now Bradley University), earning a degree as a junior watchmaker, a trade he plied for over 70 years with shops in Denver, Colo., Helper and Moab, Utah.

During World War II, he was part of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, whose motto was “Go For Broke.” He fought proudly for his country with his Japanese-American comrades. He was honorably discharged as a Technical Sergeant. The memorial to the men of the 442nd Battalion and recognition from the president in 2010 touched him deeply and honored his service.

It was while on leave in Switzerland that he met Rosmary Anna Metz. They later married and had two sons, Ken and Kay. As a young family they spent several summers racing motor boats and participated in both water and snow skiing. The couple divorced in 1986.

Frank gave his full commitment to his career, hobbies, interests and projects. Over the years these ranged from racing, to building vintage cars, to constructing dollhouses, all with the utmost attention to detail fitting the precision of his craft.

Frank was actively involved with the Masons and the Moab Shrine Club, holding many leadership positions. He supported its projects; offering his time, expertise and financial resources. He owned companies and real estate in Helper, Price and Moab, Utah. He built his successful businesses through dedication and determined effort. He worked diligently every day up to the time of his death, never missing a day due to health.

He did close the shop one day (in almost 70 years) to attend his granddaughter Kensey’s wedding, and closed two hours early when his granddaughter Brittany got married.

He is remembered as a man of integrity who was good to others. Never one for public recognition, Frank gave anonymously to those in need.

Frank leaves a legacy of an amazing work ethic, self-reliance and independence. Although he seldom gave advice, his grandson Nick distinctly recalls the day Grandpa taught him, and his high school friends staying at his home during spring break, “never do anything to disgrace this household and the name(s) you bear.” That advice has remained with all of them and served them well.

Frank was preceded in death by his parents, sisters and uncle.

He is survived by his sons, five grandchildren, 15 great-grandchildren and life-long friend, Roy Shibata, the last living member of the class of 1940!

Frank chose to be cremated. A memorial service in his honor is scheduled for Friday Jan. 3, at 1 p.m. at the Spanish Valley Mortuary.

Just as their Grandpa was proud of them, his family is proud of him and will be ever diligent to carry on his name with integrity, pride and gratitude for his example.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to, of which Frank was a loving member.

Condolences may be sent to the family at

Copyright 2013 The Times-Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

report abuse...

Express yourself:

We're glad to give readers a forum to express their points of view on issues important to this community. That forum is the “Letters to the Editor.” Letters to the editor may be submitted directly to The Times-Independent through this link and will be published in the print edition of the newspaper. All letters must be the original work of the letter writer – form letters will not be accepted. All letters must include the actual first and last name of the letter writer, the writer’s address, city and state and telephone number. Anonymous letters will not be accepted.

Letters may not exceed 400 words in length, must be regarding issues of general interest to the community, and may not include personal attacks, offensive language, ethnic or racial slurs, or attacks on personal or religious beliefs. Letters should focus on a single issue. Letters that proselytize or focus on theological debates will not be published. During political campaigns, The Times-Independent will not publish letters supporting or opposing any local candidate. Thank you letters are generally not accepted for publication unless the letter has a public purpose. Thank you letters dealing with private matters that compliment or complain about a business or individual will not be published. Nor will letters listing the names of individuals and/or businesses that supported a cause or event. Thank you letters about good Samaritan acts will be considered at the discretion of the newspaper.