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Rev. Charles K. Hasegawa Fondly Remembered

Updated: 22 hours ago

Minister Served Hawaii Kyodan, IOBT, Stockton Temples; Recalled as Beloved, Respected, Revered


Rev. Charles K. Hasegawa, whose career as a Kaikyoshi minister spanned 36 years from Hawaii to the mainland United States, was remembered as a congenial and popular “regular guy” who was beloved by both Sangha members and the general public.


The BCA Minister Emeritus was the first son of a 21st generation Jodo Shinshu minister family. He grew up in Hawaii and served as a minister for temples in the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii (HHMH) from 1974 to 1983 before joining the BCA in 1983. He was Resident Minister of the Idaho-Oregon Buddhist Temple (IOBT) from 1983 to 1996, and then at the Buddhist Church of Stockton from 1996 to 2010. He retired in 2010.


Rev. Hasegawa passed away on March 16 in Stockton at the age of 84.


He was recalled fondly as a personable and well-liked man with a ready smile who was both revered and respected. He loved playing golf with friends and enjoyed trips to the Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort.


“He was a very sincere person and selfless and never forgot to show us a smiling face,” said BCA Minister Emeritus Rev. Eijun Kujo at the April 13 funeral service for Rev. Hasegawa at the Stockton temple. Rev. Kujo first met Rev. Hasegawa in the fall of 1960 at the Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii (HHMH) in Honolulu. 


Rev. Kujo credited Rev. Hasegawa’s wife Noriko for serving as his caretaker in recent years. 

“He always appreciated his wife’s loving care and patience and was able to live a life of gratitude under the guidance of the Buddha’s boundless Wisdom and Compassion,” Rev. Kujo said.


Stockton Sangha member Kiyoshi Morodomi was among the group of golfers that included Rev. Hasegawa, and Morodomi recounted a telling quote from Rev. Hasegawa.


“He would tell the guys, ‘Don’t call me reverend. Call me Chuck.’ He always  just wanted to be one of the guys,” Morodomi said. 


He asked the members of the golf group what they most remembered about Rev. Hasegawa and “the overwhelming consensus from everyone is that they remembered all the kindness.”


Morodomi described Rev. Hasegawa as a good golfer with an 18 handicap, and recalled the time the minister made a hole-in-one with a new hybrid golf club.


“In closing, I would like to say from the golfers, ‘We miss you, Chuck,’” Morodomi said.

The third person who gave words of appreciation for Rev. Hasegawa was Roy Hasebe, who met the minister in Hawaii 42 years ago, establishing a lifelong bond that extended to their families and children.


“Sensei was a very personable minister,” Hasebe said. “He would never turn down coffee. I talked with a Sangha member and he told me when he was in the U.S. Army, Rev. Hasegawa always knew when he was coming home. He would call him up and say, ‘Let’s have coffee’ every time. Another friend said he always went to Rev. Hasegawa’s services because he enjoyed the message. He said it was always meaningful because Rev. Hasegawa spoke from the heart. My greatest gratitude to Sensei for 42 years of friendship and I certainly miss his laughter.”


In his Dharma message, Bishop Rev. Marvin Harada recalled the times when Rev. Hasegawa served as Resident Minister at Rev. Harada’s home temple — the Idaho-Oregon Buddhist Temple — from 1983 to 1996. 


“At that time, I was still studying in Japan, but then began serving the Orange County Buddhist Church from 1986,” Rev. Harada said. “Whenever I went home to Ontario, Oregon, for a visit or on vacation, I got to spend a lot of time with Sensei. I golfed with him countless times. I bowled with him. I had late night coffee with him more times than I can remember. I even have some casino memories with Sensei that are very special to me.”


Rev. Hasegawa was “the most beloved minister, not just by the Sangha members but by the whole community,” Rev. Harada said.


As an example, Rev. Harada described an anecdote from Rev. Jerry Hirano of Utah when he was invited to be a guest speaker at IOBT. 


Rev. Hasegawa took Rev. Hirano out for coffee one night at a neighborhood restaurant. A big, burly, rough-looking guy started heading toward their table, worrying Rev. Hirano, who thought the man was possibly coming over to pick a fight. 


“But when he got to the table, he said, ‘Rev. Hasegawa, how are you doing?’ And Rev. Jerry asked, ‘Was he a temple member?’ Rev. Hasegawa said, ‘No, I just happen to know him,’” Rev. Harada said.


Rev. Charles K. Hasegawa was born in Hiroshima, Japan, in 1940 at the Hasegawa Zen-tokuji Temple.


His father, Rev. Kenryu Hasegawa, moved to the Big Island of Hawaii in 1940 to serve as a minister just two weeks after the birth of his son. However, he was unable to bring his young family to Hawaii because of World War II and was sent to an internment camp from 1941 to 1945.  


After World War II, Rev. Kenryu Hasegawa returned to the Big Island to continue his ministry at Pahala Hongwanji. In 1952, he was finally able to bring his family over from Japan.   


Rev. Hasegawa grew up in Pahala, Hawaii, and moved to Waialua on Oahu for his senior year in high school, graduating in 1959. He received his Tokudo that same year.  


After high school, he attended the University of Hawaii at Manoa for his undergraduate studies and graduated in 1963, after which he entered a master’s program at the University of Kansas.  


News of his mother’s passing prompted him to return to Hawaii in order to bring his mother’s ashes back to Zen-tokuji in Japan. He decided to stay in Kyoto to complete his master’s degree at Ryukoku University in 1971 and then received his Kyoshi in 1972.  


While he was in the doctorate program at Ryukoku University, he met Noriko and they were married in 1972. The following year, they welcomed their first child, Eri, to the family. In 1974, he and his family returned to Hawaii, where they welcomed their second daughter, Aki, in 1975 and their son, Jyotis, in 1982.   


From 1974-1983, Rev. Hasegawa served at various temples in the Hawaii Kyodan, including Wahiawa Hongwanji Mission, Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin, Waimea Hongwanji Mission, and Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin. 


In 1983, he moved to the BCA and was assigned to Idaho-Oregon Buddhist Temple and after that, the Buddhist Church of Stockton. 


He was preceded in death by his parents, Rev. and Mrs. Kenryu and Kaori Hasegawa, and his sister, Nancy Yayoi Hasegawa. He is survived by his wife of 52 years of marriage, Noriko Hasegawa; stepmother, Atsuko Hasegawa; three children, Eri (Micah) Furuyama, Aki (Brian) Zeck, and Jyotis Hasegawa; and three grandchildren.


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