Temporary home sought for plaque honoring Richmond businessman, volunteer

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Richmond Rotary honors legacy of onetime president David Ninomiya
Richmond Rotary members and supporters gathered Fri., April 22, 2022 at the city’s Shimada Friendship Park to honor the memory of late club president and ardent community volunteer David Ninomiya for his “service above self.” (Photos by Kathy Chouteau)

By Kathy Chouteau

Richmond’s Department of Public Works is seeking approval from the City Council to temporarily display a granite plaque at Shimada Friendship Park honoring the late David Ninomiya—a onetime Richmond Rotary president (1978-79) and local greenhouse operator—until it is installed at its permanent location at Miraflores Sustainable Greenbelt, according to the Tues., June 28 City Council Agenda. 

Per Agenda documents, Miraflores Sustainable Greenbelt is the site of the Richmond Rotary Club’s Centennial project and Ninomiya’s plaque is one facet of it. As part of the Richmond Rotary’s 100 years of serving the Richmond community, it donated $50,000 “to help the City of Richmond interpret the history of the Japanese American families that ran nurseries on the Miraflores site.” This effort will include placing various sculptural interpretive elements throughout the park to “convey the full arc of the Japanese American story in Richmond from 1905 to the turn of the twenty-first century.”

The project will aid the Rosie the Riveter/WWII Home Front National Historical Park’s own work sharing the impact of WWII on Japanese Americans “in a place directly affected by wartime policies and programs” per Agenda documents.

When Ninomiya was a four-year-old North Richmond boy, his parents were forced to leave amid Japanese internment during WWII and the family “had to leave behind their parents and their family’s livelihood and their only way of making a living,” according to Rotarian Jan Brown at a plaque dedication ceremony at the park in April.

Ninomiya prevailed over his family’s upheaval to not only become a club and business leader, but also an ardent community volunteer.

Agenda documents indicate that a temporary site for Ninomiya’s plaque is needed because of a delay in construction of the interpretive elements. The plaque’s temporary installation at Shimada Friendship Park in the Marina Bay Neighborhood is seen as apropos “due to the historic connection between the two sites.” The temporary placement is expected to last for a two year period.

Learn more about the Richmond Rotary’s centennial project here.