Bob Sakata. (CCM)

This story first appeared in a Colorado Community Media newspaper. Support CCM’s neighborhood news.

“An extraordinary person who lived an extraordinary life.”

“A man who was dearly loved.”

“An innovator.”

Those were some of the tributes for Brighton resident and farmer Bob Sakata, who died earlier this month at the age of 96. The speeches were part of a Monday memorial service at Brighton Presbyterian Church, where Sakata was a member for more than 65 years.

“Bob was a good friend of mine,” said former Brighton physician Dr. Rod Fair. “When I think of Bob and the hours I spent with him, I think of how fortunate I was to have known him.”

Bob Sakata. (CCM)

Fair recapped the early stages of Sakata’s life, which began in 1926. He was just five years old when he lost his mother to pneumonia.

“He was led by his sisters, his brothers and his father. He learned the art of farming, and it’s one he learned well,” said Fair, who retired in 2011.

When the Second World War broke out, Sakata – like others of Japanese ancestry – was taken from California to an internment camp. His was in Topaz, Utah.

Sakata earned an early release by working on a dairy farm in Brighton where Sakata lived in the dairy barn. In 1944, the dairyman loaned Sakata the money to buy 40 acres of farmland in Brighton. Today, the farm spreads out over more than 2,400 acres.