Aug. 3, 1920 – Aug. 23, 2013
Joshua Y. Tsujimoto, a farmer and owner of a widely known Elma gift shop, died Aug. 23 in Delaware Heights Nursing Center while under care of Hospice Buffalo. He was 93.
Mr. Tsujimoto was born to Japanese immigrants in El Centro, Calif., where he grew up interested in agriculture. He was a member of Future Farmers of America in high school and won California State Farmer and American Farmer awards as a teenager.
Following Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, he and his family were among the hundreds of thousands of Japanese Americans put into internment camps in the West. The Tsujimotos were sent to Poston, Ariz., but, before the end of World War II, Mr. Tsujimoto and his family became part of a resettlement plan that brought him to Western New York in 1945.
He studied at Houghton College and eventually earned his degree in agriculture from Cornell University. He moved to a 100-acre farm in Elma, where he opened the Tsujimoto Farms roadside market. He married Alice Takahashi in 1950, and the couple shared in running the business. In 1964, they opened Tsujimoto Oriental Arts and Gifts on Seneca Street, to help finance college educations for their four children. They later also owned Oriental Wholesale Foods and Gifts in Elma.
Upon his retirement in 1982, Mr. Tsujimoto, who also had attended the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, realized a lifelong dream of becoming a missionary. Working with World Relief, part of the National Association of Evangelicals, he and his wife moved to Bangladesh for six years. He helped develop new methods of agriculture for poor farmers while his wife worked as a teacher. They returned home in 1988, when she became ill.
After his wife’s death in 1992, Mr. Tsujimoto returned to Bangladesh for three more years of mission work. He later was invited to do similar agricultural missionary work in Ethiopia.
He and his wife founded the Buffalo Bonsai Society in their store in 1965. He was a member of Randall Memorial Baptist Church and also attended My Father’s House in Elma.
He is survived by three sons, John, Paul and Mark; a daughter, Ruth Majors; and a brother, Jim.
A memorial service will be at noon Saturday in Baker Memorial United Methodist Church, 345 Main St., East Aurora. Mr. Tsujimoto donated his body to the University at Buffalo Medical School.