Tom Takao Koshio

tom koshio

Born December 20, 1927. Passed away November 15, 2019. Survived by 5 children: Gloria (Rick Cowen), Gerri Szadaj, Linda (David Rogers), Keith, Karen (Doug Hatlestad); grandchildren: Justin, Kelsey (Brian Cone) and Conner Rogers, Alec Hatlestad; great-granddaughter: Sierra Cone. Preceded in death by wife Shizuyo, parents, 2 brothers, 4 sisters, and son-in-law, Jim Szadaj. Services Monday, November 25, 7 pm at Tri-State/Denver Buddhist Temple, 1947 Lawrence St, Denver 80202. In lieu of flowers please donate to an organization of your choice.


Tom was born in Fort Lupton, Colorado to Taneji Koshio and Shime Morimitsu on December 20, 1927. He was the fifth of 9 children. Preceded in death by his parents, brothers Floyd and Sam, and sisters Evelyn Nishi Carter, Gladys (Yuki) Konishi, Jeanette (Yae) Messervey and May (Saki). He is survived by his sisters Grayce Nakagawa and Bessie (Setsu) Boone.


He graduated from Fort Lupton High School and attended Colorado A&M until he was drafted into the Army in 1945. Serving in the Army Air Corps in 1946, he was assigned to Military Intelligence Service (MIS) and stationed in Yokohama, Japan during the US Occupation.  He studied and practiced diligently and became fluent speaking and writing Japanese.  He was discharged in 1952.


While in Japan, he met and married Shizuyo Shimamura.  They were married for 51 years until she passed away in 2000.  Gloria and Gerri were born in Fujisawa, Japan. Finishing his tour of duty, Tom brought his young family to Colorado. The family increased to 5 children with Linda, Keith and Karen, all born in Denver.


Tom’s working life took him away from the farm to Denver, primarily in retail sales.  He excelled at public speaking, was called upon to be master of ceremonies or chairman at family and community activities. He was an active member of various boards and committees for the Buddhist Temple, serving as Sunday School Superintendent for Fort Lupton and Denver, emcee for the Obon and Cherry Blossom Festivals. In recent years, he was honored to present Japanese American Community Graduation Program scholarships and also participate in the Memorial Day flag-raising ceremony at the Fairmont Cemetery Nisei Memorial.


His farming roots never left him even in the big city. He proudly cultivated his vegetable and flower gardens. Orchids were his favorite, he could keep them blooming over and over. He also could carry a tune. If you ever rode in his car, Karen Carpenter was always playing. For weddings, he often sang “Hawaiian Wedding Song” or “Evergreen”. He also loved fishing, bowling and matsutake mushroom hunting.


His greatest happiness was his grandchildren. He was so proud of their many accomplishments, big or small. Piano recitals, plays, math awards, Eagle Scout ceremonies – he attended them all. He was the family patriarch for many years and loved being with his numerous nieces and nephews here in the states and also in Japan. He was also happy to be “adopted” as a grandfather to others so special to him.


Another highlight for Tom was receiving in 2011 the Congressional Gold Medal in Washington, DC. He especially enjoyed reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances.  On the flight home, one passenger offered him his first-class seat, the flight attendant announced a Congressional Gold Medal recipient was on board, the captain came out to shake his hand while the passengers applauded. He proudly showed off his medal.


Tom Koshio was proud of his heritage and culture.  He felt tradition was very important, and he instilled that knowledge and values to the family.  A family memoir contains the following quote that Tom submitted in “Memories-Recollections of Life in the Koshio Family”.


”Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass
Life is about caring and loving your family and relatives and friends
While you can touch and see them
And they are still among us to laugh and cry
And reminisce of happy and sad times
And remember those special moments
That remain in our hearts forever.”






View current weather.

Memories Timeline


  1. Elaine's mother, Fairy Kuritani, introduced us to Tom when we were still in junior high school.  She informed us about his leadership skills and the contributions he made to our Japanese American community.  We met him often at Sears as he provided us with sales information.  Tom played a very important role in the construction of the Tamai Tower and the renovation of the Tri State Denver Buddhist Temple.  He was our hero in so many ways.  We will miss Tom's quiet, behind the scene encouragement to do our best in helping our JA community.  

  2. Rick and I were so fortunate to be included in the yearly Koshio golf tournament. It was at these events we met and got to know Tom. He was remarkable with a great memory and sense of humor. He will be missed.

Sign the Guestbook, Light a Candle