The Terasaki brothers have earned a combined 11 university and advanced degrees, including two medical degrees. 

The Four Sons of Dr. Shigeo and Mrs. Ryo Terasaki: Certainly, the impressive accomplishments of all four children of Dr. Shigeo and Mrs. Ryo Terasaki satisfy the threshold for induction into Downey’s Hall of Fame; however, it is examining the Terasaki sons’ achievements in light of their full context and background, which makes for a powerfully inspiring story. The Terasaki parents made a choice to be positive and productive – despite encountering vexing circumstances.

Background: Both Terasaki parents, Shigeo and Ryo, were born in the United States (California). Being Japanese-Americans in California in the 1920’s and 1930’s presented unique struggles of finding opportunities for employment. But the events on and subsequent to December 7, 1941, brought a new set of challenges.

In 1941, Shigeo attempted to volunteer for the US Air Force – and later the Navy and Marine Corps – and was denied based on his ethnicity. Soon thereafter, the US Army did draft Shigeo. Meanwhile, following the Pearl Harbor attack, Executive Order 9066 required that Ryo (and nearly all the members of her family) be imprisoned.

The family was initially moved to live in horse stalls at the Santa Anita Racetrack, and then was relocated to an internment camp in Wyoming. Through a chain of events, Ryo and Shigeo met in the Southwest and were married in 1945. When the West Coast ban was lifted against Japanese, the Terasaki couple moved back to California, essentially restarting their lives from the ground floor (or possibly the basement, considering the lingering prejudices held by many).

Each had obtained some college studies before returning to California, which were ultimately completed, resulting in advanced degrees: Shigeo earning a medical degree and establishing a successful family practice, and Ryo receiving nursing credentials.

Later, Ryo earned a teaching credential, and also developed an avocation for the arts through the medias of oil and watercolor. She devoted many decades to her passion in furthering the arts through creating, competing, demonstrating, and also teaching art in several Southern California communities’ programs. For the Terasaki parents, rather than viewing the world as a place filled with obstacles and roadblocks, they saw the beauty in opportunity.

The journey of parents Shigeo and Ryo provided life-lessons for their family, upon which their sons have fashioned their own lifeworks, instilled with key core values: tenacity and hard work are rewarding; education is viewed as a means to grow and to fully contribute to the community; in spite of current circumstances, one makes a decision to rise each day to see beauty, finding both humor and pleasure amid the toil; and achieving the ultimate satisfaction in knowing that good work remains to be done.