Robert Shiomi died on May 2, a few months before his 100th birthday. He was born in Japan and came to the United States as a teenager.
His obituary in the Oregonian does not mention that half a century ago, Dr. Shiomi and his late wife Ruby broke one of Portland's long-standing racial barriers. In 1951, six years after World War II ended, Dr. and Mrs. Shiomi became the first Japanese to buy a house in Kings Heights, the upper-end residential area between the Multnomah Athletic Club and Washington Park. At that time, 13 years before President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act, many of the houses in Portland were subject to restrictive covenants that prohibited blacks and Asians (usually called "Orientals" in the covenants) from living there, except as servants. So was the house that the Shiomis bought, and much of Portland Heights and the West Hills. They had to buy it somewhat secretively. E. Kimbark MacColl alludes briefly to the incident in one of his histories of Portland, though without naming the Shiomis.
The Shiomis sold the house and property 20 years ago. The house still stands; it's on the west side of Vista Avenue in the middle of the block between Park Place and Madison Street, though townhouses have been built in the Shiomis' former yard.