Hiromi Dye

First post: 2/20/2017 Latest post: 3/18/2017
Hiromi M Dye

Hiromi Matsumoto Dye (http://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/roho/ucb/text/dye_hiromi_2015.pdf) was born April 2, 1923 in Sacramento, California and grew up in the farm community of Winters, California. Her parents, Hiroshige (Dad) and Misao (Mom) immigrated from Japan in the early 1900’s and developed a 61-acre plot of rural brush into a thriving apricot orchard. Hiromi and her younger sister, Hideyo, worked on the farm while attending elementary and high school in Winters.

When she was about four, her father hired a Spanish family with several children, the oldest of whom was her age. They became fast friends. She therefore learned Spanish before she learned English. Later, having skipped a grade of Elementary School, and because there was no school bus, Hiromi was granted a special driver’s license at age 13 to drive the four miles to and from the high school, using the family’s stick shift Chevy.

At Winters High School, Hiromi excelled in academics and public speaking, earning her admission to the University of California Berkeley in 1940, where she majored in Biology and Pre-med. Her sophomore year was disrupted by the events of December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii, and she was relocated to an internment camp in Gila River, Arizona (http://www.oac.cdlib.org/search?style=oac4;titlesAZ=j;idT=UCb231482437). Since Hiromi had received some college education and spoke three languages, she was treated as a liaison. She was made Postmaster and a 6th grade teacher at the Gila River Internment Camp. She concurrently studied with instructors from Arizona State University to earn her teaching credentials.

By 1942, the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) were among the few groups to publicly support and aid the 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry who were forced to leave their homes and were incarcerated in ten camps across the US. Hiromi was selected by the Quakers to attend Mt Holyoke College in South Hadley, MA. In March 1943, she found a wonderful community of support on the East Coast and quickly made friends while pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Zoology. She graduated from Mt Holyoke in the spring of 1945 and attended Graduate School at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. It was in Ithaca that Hiromi met her future husband, Harold Wesley Dye, over a game of bridge.

Wesley and Hiromi moved to Richmond, VA where they began a family while Wesley began a career in with Reynolds Metals and Hiromi worked at Thalhimer’s Department Store. Following the birth of their daughter Kathy in 1948, they relocated to Los Angeles to join Hiromi’s parents and eventually raise their three children Kathy, Ken, and Tom.

Wesley resumed his work as a Commercial Artist at Reynold’s Metals. Hiromi worked as a bookkeeper for McMahan’s Furniture in Santa Monica, CA, while a visionary manager at McMahan’s encouraged her to better utilize her college education by interviewing for a position with the newly formed RAND Corporation down the street in Santa Monica. 

Her strong writing and mathematics skills landed a research and grant-writing position at RAND, and she worked there throughout the 1950’s. Later in that decade, Hiromi joined a newly incorporated firm called Planning Research Corporation (PRC) in Westwood, CA. Hiromi’s superb grant-writing and presentation skills elevated her through the corporate ranks to SR Vice President of Research. As the highest-ranking female in PRC’s history, Hiromi regularly commuted from her offices in California and McLean, VA, coordinating projects ranging from Aerospace to water desalination. Following PRC’s  mergers with Emhart and later Black and Decker, Hiromi retired in 1986.

In December 2009, UC Berkeley honored its Nisei, second generation Japanese-Americans, who were forced out of classrooms shortly after the beginning of WWII. Berkeley awarded an honorary bachelor’s degree to Hiromi in recognition of college work completed. http://www.mercurynews.com/2009/12/13/emotional-day-as-uc-berkeley-awards-honorary-degrees-to-former-internees/

She enjoyed her retirement in Los Angeles, CA and actively managed her business interests aided by the skills of her son, Tom.

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