Sam Kurose

Editor’s note: Beloved Nak’s Market owner Sam Kurose passed away at the end of January. The following remembrance is provided by his daughter Tamami Hansen.

Seikichi (“Sam”) Kurose was born in Tokyo, Japan, the eldest of four children. He was no stranger to hard work, and from an early age, he worked several jobs while juggling school — first to help support his siblings, then later to put himself through college and support his young, growing family.

After landing a job as a news reporter at NHK, he became fascinated with the international arena beyond Japan. He also wanted to provide his daughters the opportunities he knew they would never receive in Japan, so in 1970, he and his wife, Ikie, left the stability and familiarity of Japan and moved their family to the U.S. — and never looked back.

Many years later, I met my dad’s mentor from NHK, and he told me that dad was a rising star at NHK, and everyone thought he made a big mistake by leaving a successful career in Japan and moving to the U.S. Later, I recall asking my dad if he ever regretted moving to the states, and he paused and asked me if I was happy, and when I told him I was, he replied that he did not regret his decision.

To many in Menlo Park, “Sam” was the friendly owner of Nak’s Market, but to his family, he was our hero — the one who saved us when we needed help; the one person who we could always rely on for anything and everything. He never complained about the hardships he faced as a child or as an immigrant in a foreign country, struggling to support his young family, or, later in his elder years, being diagnosed with PSP [Progressive supranuclear palsyin], a crippling progressive disease that left him bedridden, non-verbal, and basically blind.

Like everything in life, he faced these difficulties courageously and stoically because he never wanted to be a burden on anyone, especially his family. My dad was a man of very few words yet he taught me many of life’s most important lessons as a person and as a parent. He worked hard, lived honestly, and always placed his family first.

Although he was not a demonstrative or affectionate man, we never doubted that he loved us with his heart and soul. Growing up, Dad never criticized or judged us. In fact, we can’t recall him ever speaking a negative word about anyone. When he spoke, it was only to encourage or support us. As a parent now, I think back, and I am amazed at his patience and awed with his ability to always take the time to help us no matter how busy he may have been.

When he became ill, and his business suffered, he was so grateful for the support shown by his many loyal customers. Nak’s Market was his second home, and he knew many of his customers by name. Knowing my dad, I know he would have wanted me to take this opportunity to express his heart-felt gratitude to all of his friends and customers for supporting Nak’s Market for over the years.

Dad passed away peacefully in his home on January 26, 2020, after struggling valiantly with PSP for over seven years. A special thank you to my siblings Naomi and Ken, and to my brother-in-law, John Harrington, for providing him amazing care for the last few years so that dad could continue living in his home surrounded by his family instead of a facility. He is survived by his three children, Tamami Hansen, Naomi Harrington, and Ken Kurose, his granddaughter, Alainna Hansen, and his two son-in-laws, Eric Hansen and John Harrington.

InMenlo file photo (c) 2010

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