Remembering Uncle Roy

Remembering Uncle Roy

On April 28, 2014, my uncle, Roy Nakamoto passed away from lung disease. At his memorial, I heard multiple memorable stories about him from his friends and family.

Today, my cousin Tai and his mom released my uncle’s ashes. I thought it would be cool to publish some stories about Uncle Roy given to me by family members.

Billy Roman

When I visited Uncle Roy the Saturday evening before he passed away, we talked about various things. But the one subject I found most interesting was about father and son relationships. All of the things he he had to say about his relationship with his dad could be said about sons all around the world. It’s like night and day; sometimes your dad is your hero and other times you feel like he’s your worst enemy.

He described his dad as “Mr. Miyagi” when he was in a good mood and an extremely angry man when he was not. He remembered how much his dad didn’t want him to join the Air Force. Maybe at the time he thought he his dad was just trying to control him, but looking back on it he realized it was because he loved him and didn’t want anything to happen to him.

In the end, I think the reason a lot of fathers and sons don’t get along at times is because all men have their own ideas about how a man should be, and when we don’t see our fathers or sons living up to these standards, we bump heads. Fathers and sons need each other and even if the son won’t admit it, his father’s approval and pride in him means more to him than most anything ever could.

R.I.P. Uncle Roy. I hope you get to have that serious talk with your dad, “that rich boy” after all. – Love, Billy

Janene Ayala

Ever since I was young, my fondest memories were going golfing with my dad, uncles, and aunties. Every weekend, as my dad would tip-toe out of the house (trying not to wake me), I would jump out of bed and ask to go. Of course, without hesitation he would tell me to quickly get ready because Uncle Roy was on his way to pick us up. All of a sudden, we would hear a loud honk and sure enough it was Uncle Roy. As my dad and I would approach the car, I could already see Uncle Roy throwing his hands up in the air, squinting his face and saying, “Ahh… Nini’s coming?” I would stand there patiently with the car door open waiting for his response. Laughing and smiling he would say, “Aahhrighht, come on in.” I happily jumped in the back seat and off we went. The funny thing is that this was something that he did all the time. I think he got a kick out of me begging to go.

This isn’t really a story, but I wanted to mention a loving expression that Ryland and Jadyn did with Uncle Roy every time they saw him. For each greeting and goodbye, Uncle Roy would sniff each side of the kids’ faces and say, “Ahhhhh.” Not sure where this ritual came from but it was something that they always did. As the kids got older, they would do it back to him. This is something that the kids will forever remember.


Bruce Santo

I remember times when I was a child and we used to go to uncle’s house when he lived off King Road. We had family gatherings there as we do at other families’ houses now. I remember at one gathering, uncle had me try abalone for the first time. I wasn’t sure about it, but he reassured me it would be okay. I tried it and ended up liking it. I can’t remember ever having abalone again, but I do remember the first time I ate it and it was at uncle’s house.

I remember when uncle bought a new car. He was so excited and proud of his new car, he drove to my mom’s house to show her. It was a very nice car for the times. I remember sitting in the back seat with my mom as we went for a test drive. He was showing us all the bells and whistles the car had and was so proud of his new car. I can’t even remember what type of car it was, but I think it was green.

Another memory I had with Uncle Roy was when Uncle Dave was at home dealing with his sickness. I went to the house fairly early one day and everybody was still asleep. People were laying around everywhere crashed out. I was outside on the porch when Uncle Roy drove up. He asked if anybody was awake and I said no. He said let’s go eat lunch. We walked up the street to this little hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint. I remember having menudo. We just sat there for awhile eating and talking. We talked about each other’s health and my job. It was good to sit one-on-one with uncle as those moments don’t always arise often. It was great.

Fun times with uncle were always had sitting around the poker table with the family, especially when Uncle Joe and Uncle Gary were at the table as well. They all would banter back and forth telling each other how badly they played and, “How could you be in my pot with those cards?” Uncle Roy would grab his cards and say “I won a two-thousand dollar pot with these cards,” and then he would raise. The flop hits and he would smile, throw out a bet and say, “Bringing in the sheep,” as he laughed. Good times playing poker with the family!


Remembering Uncle RoyMy story about Uncle Roy isn’t as touching as the others, but it is very memorable. At my 30th birthday party, we rented frozen margarita machines. The margaritas tasted very much like Icees. There may have even been an alcoholic one and a non-alcoholic one, but I don’t quite remember.

Carol and I noticed that Uncle Roy was drinking them and all of a sudden, he was passed out on the couch. I don’t think he knew that he was drinking a real margarita and figured he was drinking an Icee. He wasn’t out for long and he was good-natured about it, which makes me smile and makes it a fun memory. I even have a photo of him from that night.

Gary Nakamoto

Roy was eight years my senior. I feel our age difference did not allow for much brotherly-hanging-around-type activities, but nevertheless I witnessed plenty of stuff. As I can remember, he was very much involved in sports. On occasion, he would allow me to play baseball-type games such as Lefty Lob or Three Flies Out at Ryland Park. Roy would have to bat the opposite way because he could really hit the ball long and far and usually placed the ball over the park fence. But, I believe he was a power hitter from both sides of the plate and it made no difference which side he swung the bat. He owned an old and very well-broken-in autographd “Willie Mays” glove. I would borrow his glove without getting his permission to play in little league games during my first season. Boy was he upset when he couldn’t find the glove to play with.

I remember he owned a BB gun. He took me with him to Ryland Park one day and he was targeting pigeons in the palm trees. He shot one dead and it fell to the ground. I felt a bit sad at first, but it was too much fun to stop.

My brother was well known for his athleticism as running back and linebacker at Lincoln High. I remember seeing pictures of Roy in his high school football uniform. He was running by someone with a stiff arm – the classic running back pose. But these were actual game pictures. There were a lot of those pics. When I attended Lincoln, the coaches often bragged about Roy and his hitting ability. He was known to make such a hit on opposing players that it could be heard from the grandstand bleachers. He was such a sports legend that the football coaches never let me forget it. Thus, I prided myself on trying to play up to his level and being recognized as his little brother. One of the proudest days was when he and dad both attended my football game. He was proud of me and cheered the loudest in the stands. Oh boy! It little embarrassing, but I felt good.

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