Hidao “Ed” Araki’s sons are hoping to honour their father’s memory with the thing he loved the most – baseball.
“One of the things I have talked to [my brothers] about, because of all his contribution and volunteer work and stuff like that, we are going to go to council and see if we can get 6th Avenue Ballpark changed to Hidao “Ed” Araki Memorial Park,” says Kim Araki, Ed’s oldest son.
“I also talked to the boys about putting on another slowpitch tournament, but not during Brigade Days. It will be either end of July or second week of August, in his memory. And start another tournament here in town. That’s what my ambition is. I’m going to see if I can get a tournament organized in his name.”
Ed’s passion for baseball was developed from an early age. According to Kim, Ed had all the skills and knowledge to become a professional player, and he was even approached by the Brooklyn Dodgers to play on their team. However, at the time Ed, who had spent most of his childhood in an internment camp, was too busy focused on being released from the camp.
Kim says that his father’s mind “wasn’t in the right place” regarding the scouting as all he was thinking about was freedom. As such, he didn’t seriously consider the offer and wasn’t approached again by a professional team — which, Kim says, was a good thing as neither he nor his brothers would be here if Ed had played professional baseball.
While professional play never materialized, the passion for the game continued even as a parent in later years.
“As far as him being a coach was concerned, he was very aggressive and if you didn’t listen you didn’t play,” says Kim. “It was quite simple. It was [his] rules or don’t play.”
Aside from baseball, Ed also coached hockey, softball and fastball — including coaching the ladies fastball team for many years, which ended up making it to both the provincials and nationals. In fact, Ed helped to bring minor baseball and minor hockey to Hope and ran many baseball tournaments during past Hope Brigade Days. He eventually became the president of Hope Minor Hockey and received an Outstanding Service Award in 1993 from Softball Canada for his input into minor softball.
A resident of the District of Hope since 1952, Ed Araki passed away on Nov. 19. He is remembered across the community for his big heart and countless hours of service. He was a man who seemed to know everyone; Kim says he remembers his father always spending at least 10 minutes conversing and catching up with people whenever they went into town. Ed was also a frequent patron of Hope’s restaurants, including Rolly’s and the former Kettle Valley restaurant, and he is remembered well by them.
Ed was also president of Hope Brigade Days, and a commissioner with Hope and District Recreation and Cultural Services. He served as president of the Hope Crime Prevention Society. Araki was also the co-ordinator of Hope Block Watch, Crime Free Multi Housing and CPTED. He served on the board of directors of the Block Watch Society of B.C. and the Upper Fraser Valley Crime Stoppers Society.
To top it all off, he had been a volunteer firefighter since 1956.
His countless years of volunteerism eventually earned him the Governor General’s Caring Canadian Award in 2013.
“He believed in this town. He loved Hope for everything it offered, everything it offered him when he got here,” says Kevin Araki, Ed’s second eldest son. “He just always had a deep sense of community. This town meant a lot to him.”
According to his sons, Ed’s life was not an easy one — especially during the beginning. Born in Mission on Nov. 19, 1932, he was sent to Alberta during the Second World War and placed in an internment camp. Ten years later, when he was finally released, he moved to Sunshine Valley (at the time known as 14 mile) where he worked as a logger at the Allison Pass Sawmill. When the mill eventually shut down, he then went on to work for the Department of Highways as both a long-haul trucker and a snowplow operator.
Throughout it all, his sons say that Ed continued to work hard and give everything his “100 per cent.”
“He was strict in some ways, but it was probably for a reason,” says Kelly Araki, Ed’s youngest son. “Like we said, he was about working hard. And that’s probably where his strictness came in. When you’re at work, you work. Have fun when you can, but work when you’re there, don’t goof off.”
Ed’s sons remember a hardworking man who showed his love in complicated ways. In fact, both Kelly and Kevin say they remember spending many days with their father connecting through sports.
“Once we got old enough he was very involved with all that stuff — softball, hockey, he was usually my coach half the time. He was just always involved in that,” says Kevin. “Whether it was just me and [Kelly], or any other kids around, he was very community minded — everyone was always involved. For me, and I think for Kelly too, a lot of our relationship with dad was through sports. Just seeing the commitment he had to us as kids growing up with baseball, hockey, and the other things he did in the community.”
For Kelly, it was through sports that he was able to get his best memories with his father.
“Every weekend I got to throw the ball with him,” says Kelly. “Up until just four years ago. Just every weekend, I’d throw the ball.”
Meanwhile Kim, who is from Ed’s first marriage and only connected with his father when he was 17, says his best memories of his father took place as an adult whenever he went camping.
“It didn’t matter what time we pulled [into the campsite], he was there to help us set up,” says Kim. “And that’s what both my daughters remember too. Back then you could come up during Easter and we had Easter egg hunts up there. And they’ll say, ‘Remember that time when Grampa was up there and every time we’d find an egg, we’d take off and he’d call us back because there was another egg there?’ And yeah, if you’d checked his pockets they’d be bulging with eggs. Cause every time they grabbed one and took off, he’d dropped another one and go, ‘hey you missed one over here’!”
Aside from sports, something less known about Ed was his love for the “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll.”
“He was a diehard Elvis Presley fan,” says Kim. “As a matter of fact, his bucket list was to see Elvis and he got it. He’s seen Elvis when Elvis came to Vancouver in 1963. And my daughters called him the Japanese Elvis.”
His sons say that Ed’s passing is a true loss for the community of Hope as he was a giving and generous soul, who was always there for people.
“I want people to know what a giving person he was,” said Kim. “It didn’t matter who asked, he would help… I just know if somebody asked, he’d help. He gave so much to this town.”
It is also this giving nature that Kevin remembers best.
“He was just always there. Whether it be for me, Kelly, Kim, Craig, whoever — the community. He managed to always be there,” says Kevin. “The main thing about Dad, for me maybe — just because I didn’t have as much time with him on the ball field — he would always be there. Just making sure I was always getting better and giving me the push to do the things I needed to do. He was one guy you could always rely on, whatever was needed… he was there. That’s just all I can say about Dad.”
Ed passed away peacefully at Chilliwack General Hospital with his sister, Yuki, by his side. He was 90 years old.
He is survived by his four boys — Kim (Cyndi), Craig, Kevin and Kelly (Cindy) — by his eight grandchildren, and by his seven great-grandchildren.