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5.31.2013

Man who saved farms of interned Japanese Americans dies

Sacramento farmer Bob Fletcher saved the farms of several Japanese American families during World War II.



Bob Fletcher, a farmer who saved the farms of several Japanese American families when they were interned during World War II, died in Sacramento on May 23. He was 101.

Obituary: Bob Fletcher saved farms of interned Japanese Americans during WWII.

While Japanese Americans lost their homes and businesses to thieves or bank foreclosures, Fletcher sacrificed his job and standing in the community to save the farms of the Nitta, Okamoto and Tsukamoto families. He worked the land, paid the mortgages and turned the farms back to the families when they returned to Sacramento after the war -- all this in a time of rampant anti-Japanese sentiment:

A state agricultural inspector, Mr. Fletcher acted instinctively to help Japanese American farmers. He quit his job and went to work saving farms belonging to the Nitta, Okamoto and Tsukamoto families in the Florin community.

In the face of deep anti-Japanese sentiment – including taunts of "Jap lover" and a bullet fired into the Tsukamoto barn – Mr. Fletcher worked 90 acres of flame Tokay grapes. He paid the mortgages and taxes and took half the profits. He turned over the rest – along with the farms – to the three families when they returned to Sacramento in 1945.

"I did know a few of them pretty well and never agreed with the evacuation," he told The Bee in 2010. "They were the same as anybody else. It was obvious they had nothing to do with Pearl Harbor."

We salute you, Mr. Fletcher.

More here: Florin icon Bob Fletcher dies.


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