Remembering Raymond Sakae Yamane (June 12, 1930 – February 17, 2023)

According to Alanis Morisettte, life has a funny way of sneaking up on you when you think everything’s okay and everything’s going right.

A week ago Monday I had cleared my “to do” list and was excited to turn my attention to finishing the three remaining chapters of my book on American gun culture. That afternoon, my sister in California called to let me know that my dad was fine but going to the ER for evaluation of his legs. By Tuesday, he was admitted to the hospital and my wife, Sandy, who is a nurse practitioner, told me I should go home.

I landed at SFO at 12:30pm on Thursday and was to the hospital by 1:30pm. 21 hours later, my father passed.

This post has two purposes. First, to let anyone who is interested know who Raymond Yamane was. Read more below for that.

Second, to say that I am all the more committed to finishing my work on American gun culture, but less committed than ever to competing in the attention economy represented by Web 2.0 especially in its social media incarnations. Whatever productive years I have remaining I want to put toward truly meaningful work.

My father died after a long and full life and a mercifully short stay in the hospital. I am grateful that I made it from North Carolina to spend his last 21 hours with him.

I am also thankful beyond words for my mother (especially), sisters, brothers-in-law, and nephews who no doubt kept my dad alive with their love and care much longer than we could have expected. I left California in 1991 and was absent from my family more than I was present for a couple of decades. They never were.

That allowed me to go off and do my own thing. I like to tell myself that my leaving home was very much in my father’s spirit.

He grew up walking to school barefooted on Kauai, graduated from high school in 1948 and left for technical school in Wisconsin then Indiana, served in the US Army from 1953 to 1955 in Texas and Washington, settled in the Bay Area, and traveled for work and met my mother in upstate New York in 1960.

Ray and Jean Yamane traveled the United States and the world before moving into our family home in Half Moon Bay in 1971 where they celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary last month.

I was fortunate to be able to work for my dad many summers starting when I was a teenager. He entrusted me to do real work and asked only that I do my best. A lesson I have carried through my personal and professional life. He also paid me well enough that I could follow in his footsteps of buying hi-fi equipment and Ben Hogan golf clubs, something I enjoy to this day.

Over the course of his life, my father had a remarkable ability to roll with the hand he was dealt. When the time came, he quit smoking, quit drinking beer, quit golfing, and quit driving. But he remained pretty happy (all things health-wise considered) and stayed busy working on the yard and his computer until the very end.

Even though I have been preparing myself for this moment for some time now, it still hits hard. I have a huge hole in my heart.


  1. Your father was a great man. I looks like he & your mom did well in raising their son (you). I lost my father about ten year ago. I’ll miss him until the day that I join him in our Heavenly Father’s home. Thank you for sharing this wonderful tribute to him & his life.


  2. My condolences, David – that hole in your heart will be there always, but it will be much less painful over time. I am also glad you were able to spend his last hours with him.


  3. Those stories and pictures leave a hole in my heart, too, David. Wish I could give you a hug in person. Guess you will have to do with the virtual version.

    Like you, I left home for the world of academia and was gone for most of my adult life, at least with respect to the little town of Alden where I grew up and where my parents were planted. All I have built on the shoulders of those before me. In my case, the pictures are of Sicilian-Americans and the Old Man, who grew up on a chicken farm outside Buffalo. I have a pic of my grandfather on a really, really ancient motorcycle with all the kids piled on in the saddle and in a sidecar. The pic of your dad on the Triumph hit hard. Seems all of us in my family have that propensity to things with motors and two wheels. Looking at those pics, my 14 years in Honolulu make me feel like your family is ohana. George’s Deli on Beretania. The folks I worked with whenever the U of H lab broke down and we had to fix it.

    My new wife Meena and I had just moved into the house we bought after getting married. It was late summer of 1992 and we were setting up in Hawaii Kai, on the Koko Head end of Oahu. She had just got tenure and I was a brand new assistant prof. We were decorating our first Christmas tree when my brother called from Buffalo and said I better get home, as Mom had Stage 4 cancer and was in the OR. I acquired enough miles the following year to be a star customer of United Air lines. That culminated in me flying home in late summer of 1993 to help tend to my mom’s last days, helping out with her husband, my stepdad. It was really important to be there.

    We owe a lot to them, and then they are gone. Condolences, David. And sorry to wax on so long.


  4. Here to your dad, David.

    And, yes, we can prepare as much as we can for that moment, but when it comes, we’re not prepared at all. May the hole in your, and your family’s hearts heal with the wonder memories of your dad.


  5. The legacy of a father is reflected in the hearts touched and path established by their children.

    My deepest sympathies and gratitude for the tools your father left you and provided the rest of us…


  6. You have my deepest sympathies, know that while the hole will never fill it will get shallower. My dad died 25 years ago and there are times when I say to myself Dad would have….


  7. My condolences. He sounds like a wonderful father! I can empathize, having lost my good and honorable (and stoic) Swedish-American father three years ago.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. My heartfelt condolences to you and your family sir. 

    Thank you for all you have done for us.




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  9. Sorry about your father. I know he’s watching you and can’t wait to read your book and see the success it will bring you. From the way you speak of him, I know he must be very proud of you. Know that all of us here have you and your family in our prayers.


  10. Thank you for sharing your father’s story and I offer my condolences as you go through this mourning stage of life. My father is on hospice now so I know I will be joining your club quite soon. I am glad your father did not suffer and lived a full life. Stay well and thank you.


  11. I am sorry for you loss. My father passed away more than 10 years ago, and my mother passed away more than 20 years ago. Even when it is expected, it is a shock.

    Your parents made the world safe. Bandaged knees, got rid of the monsters under the bed. Taught the important stuff like how to ride a bike, and fishing – I love that photo. Some days I miss them so much.


  12. David, Condolence on loss of your Father. I lost mine just over 21 years ago, and still feel it. I periodically recall the good memories of being together and learning together which helps me as I travel through this life. I now am retired, but serve our communities through my work with GRNC in your home state of North Carolina. Best wishes, and good memories.


  13. […] I have presented my work dozens of times in the 30 years since my first academic conference presentation in 1992. I had never missed a scheduled presentation until this year, when I could not attend a session (organized by Nicholas Buttrick and including Tara Warner and Emmy Betz) at the annual meeting of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science due to my father’s death. […]


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