Robert H. Fukuda passed away on June 25, 2021. Bob was my wife Heidi’s father. He was a man of few words, so few, in fact, that during the more than forty years that I knew him—and even though we only lived about six blocks apart for most of that time and frequently saw each other—I doubt there was a year when we spoke more than a hundred words apiece to each other. We had virtually no shared interests other than family.
Heidi was nineteen and I was twenty when we began dating. She lived with her parents at the time. Cell phones and caller ID hadn’t been invented yet. When I called for her on their family phone and Bob answered, I said hello, told him my name, and asked for Heidi. He never replied to me. Bob just shouted for Heidi and set the receiver down.
During my visits, at some point usually early in the evening, he would stand, leave the room without saying a word, and not return.
I was convinced that he neither liked nor respected me.
I soon learned that Bob answered the phone that way no matter who called. He went to bed at the same time and in the same way no matter whether I was there or not. He was a carpenter and had to rise early for work, so he went to bed early and without fanfare.
Our first child, born thirteen months after Heidi and I were married, was her parents’ first grandchild. I remember Bob’s big smile as he played with our kids. He’d get down on his hands and knees and give them horse rides or wrestle with them, inspiring delighted laughter.
He designed, and then he and I built, a large treehouse in our backyard for his grandkids.
Bob and his wife Jane were always there for us. When Heidi and I relocated to my new job back in our hometown and our temporary corporate housing wasn’t yet available, Bob and Jane took us in. We lived with them until it was.
At times when money became especially tight for Heidi and me, they always offered to help us.
When my business grew to the point where it needed more space, Bob worked several weekends in a row and turned the detached two car garage at our home into a three-room office for my employees and me. Bob worked on the project seven-days a week for about two months, never complaining, nor requesting or accepting payment of any kind.
We never heard him say that he loved us. He didn’t need to. Bob showed his love for us through his actions.
He never tried to tell us what to do or how to do it, but he was always there when he was needed, just quietly and competently doing what needed to be done.
Toward the end of his life when he and I were alone together I told him, man to man, that he was good man and father-in-law. He just replied in typical Bob Fukuda fashion, “Well, I don’t know about that.” But the look in his eyes let me know he was deeply touched by the comment.
I’m blessed to have had Bob in my life, and am forever grateful to him.