Doctor's kindness, loyalty benefited 2 countries
With his body ravaged by the effects of Parkinson's disease, Dr. Isamu Sando couldn't keep his right arm raised on Dec. 20 while he was taking his oath of being sworn in as a naturalized citizen of the United States.
Dr. Sando lowered the arm, his daughter said, but immediately raised his left hand to ensure he could finish the oath.
“He was so proud,” his daughter, Mariko Sando, said. “He really wanted to make sure his hand was up.”
Dr. Isamu Sando of Upper St. Clair died on Saturday, April 12, 2014, in Asbury Heights assisted living facility in Mt. Lebanon of Parkinson's Disease. He was 85.
For nearly 25 years, Dr. Sando was a professor of otolaryngology, the study of ear, nose and throat conditions, and pathology in the University of Pittsburgh, and was the director of Elizabeth McCullough Knowles Otopathology Laboratory in the university's School of Medicine.
Dr. Sando moved from Japan to the United States in 1962, settling in Boston with his wife and daughter before moving his family to Denver to work for the University of Colorado.
By 1972, Sando and his family moved to Pittsburgh. Until his 2001 retirement, Dr. Sando mentored more than 40 research fellows from Japan. His daughter said that because of the language barrier many faced, Dr. Sando and his wife, Yoko, helped many of them settle in the Pittsburgh area.
“He loved helping everybody. That's why his fellows just loved him. They did whatever they could for him. They are loyal to him to this day,” Yoko Sando said.
In 2007, Dr. Sando was awarded the Japanese Order of the Sacred Treasures, including Gold Ray with Neck Ribbon, from the Emperor of Japan, honoring his work in otolaryngology.
For years, Dr. Sando wavered on whether to become a naturalized citizen, his daughter said.
“I think he was worried that he might have problems with connections he still had in Japan,” Sando said. Dr. Sando overcame those concerns and became a U.S. citizen less than four months before his death.
“He said he owed everything to the United States. He wanted to always buy American things. He believed that his success was in part to being in the United States,” Sando said.
In addition to his wife, Yoko, of Upper St. Clair; and daughter, Mariko Sando of Mt. Lebanon; Mr. Sando is survived by a sister, Kotoko Aoki, in Japan; two grandchildren and a great-granddaughter.
Arrangements were handled by John A. Freyvogel Sons Inc. funeral home in Shadyside. A memorial service is scheduled for 2 p.m. May 19 in Heinz Chapel in the University of Pittsburgh in Oakland.
Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or firstname.lastname@example.org.