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Gary Clifford Yamasaki

June 13, 1956 - February 19, 2022

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Gary Clifford Yamasaki
June 13, 1956 – February 19, 2022
On Saturday, February 19, Gary Yamasaki had been in the Abbotsford hospital for three
weeks dealing with complications related to his cancer. By then he was feeling well
enough to enjoy the wonton soup he had asked for, approved by his doctor and brought
by his wife, and he explained curling to her as they watched the Olympics together. Yet
suddenly he was overcome, and just a few hours later with his wife at his side, he took
his last breath and crossed the threshold from this life to the next.

People are like a breath;
their lives are like passing shadows.
LORD, tear open the sky and come down.
Psalm 144:4-5 (NCV)

Gary was born in Vancouver, B.C., played many sports in his childhood and youth, was
baptized into the church, met and married his high school sweetheart, graduated from
law school and passed the bar, managed a running shoe store, earned a Master of
Divinity and a Ph.D. in biblical studies. He taught at a Bible school for over twenty-five
years, then taught and supervised grad students at a Christian university. His research
specialty was perspective criticism, and his latest project was developing an animated
video series to teach New Testament Greek.
Gary was an innovative teacher and scholar, who met hardship with endurance and
faith in God, and was unfailingly kind to others even as he went through hospitalizations
and chemotherapy. He loved mentoring and encouraging others, watching and
analyzing movies, running for fitness and even moreso for the sense of freedom it gave
him, tending daily to his fantasy hockey pool, and being “at home with just us two.”
Gary leaves behind his brothers, Brian (Kathy) and Warren (Sheri), and other extended
family members and friends, missed by them and by many, especially by his wife and
best friend, April. The positive thoughts and prayers of many within and beyond the
church community and the expressions of care from family, friends, church members,
health care workers, and even strangers have been a key part of this journey. In deep
grief and deep gratitude, thanks be to God.
In lieu of a memorial service, please celebrate Gary’s life by giving blood, encouraging a
health care worker, or doing some other deliberate act of kindness. As well, please
leave a memory or tribute by using the “send condolence” link. Donations in his memory
gratefully received by a charity of your choice.

Love the Lord your God
with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.
Love your neighbor as you love yourself.
Matthew 22:37, 39 (NCV)

In Memory, from Gary’s brother, Brian
I recollect Gary’s first childhood accident, since I was responsible for babysitting. We
were playing and crawling on a wooden telephone pole, when the pole moved and
pinned Gary’s leg underneath. Fortunately he was rescued by the neighbours, his leg
was fine, and I got another chance to babysit my little brother. Gary’s love for hockey
stats started at a very young age as we fought over the sports section of the Sun newspaper. He kept stats of every goal, assist, and penalty minute of each player on a
daily basis. His love for the Montreal Canadiens even led him to clip “Go Habs Go” in
our front hedge. As a runner, Gary was very fast, and he chose what I thought was the
hardest race of all, the 800 meters. He challenged himself further when he went on to
complete the Chicago Marathon. Gary loved mentoring. This even included teaching
elementary school students about track on his days off from managing the running shoe
store. His accomplishments were endless. I will always remember the support and
encouragement he provided to me when I entered my first Sun Run and every run
thereafter. I am so thankful for the closeness I felt we shared in this past year.

In Memory, from Gary’s brother, Warren
I remember Gary doing well at school since all his past teachers had high expectations
of me (no pressure), being a meticulous statistician with his stacks of Hockey News and
his statistics binders during high school (a pre-cursor to his hockey pool career), and
someone that loved sports. We had fun playing street hockey, he was a very good goal
keeper in juvenile soccer, he played tackle football, played baseball sometimes together
with me on the same team. He was a member of the Vancouver Optimist Club, training
with Olympic medalists Greg Joy and Debbie Brill down in Brockton Oval. He was a
great field hockey goalie. He and four of his friends won a game against the senior high
school field hockey team for fun. He also played the trombone for all of high school
which was important to our parents, but noisy for the household. He was able to pick up
an electric guitar and learn Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” by ear. Hard act to
follow both Brian and Gary.

In Memory, from Gary’s friend, Chuck (Texas, USA)
Gary was a friend for almost 35 years. I met him in graduate school, where we were the only two who survived the first year. He was as gentle and kind a person as I have ever met. He combined his faith and his scholarship in remarkable ways. He earned a Ph.D. under the world-renowned professor, Dr. Jack Dean Kingsbury. He wrote books, not for tenure, but because he had something to say about how point of view mattered in reading biblical texts. He lived with great passion: as a runner, as a researcher, as a teacher of Greek, as a supporter of April’s ministry, as one who memorized the Gospel of Matthew, as a friend. He not only had the Sermon on the Mount memorized, he lived it, non-violently, generously, faithfully. Remarkably, we kept in touch, even though we both lived in the same city for only two years. Our friendship survived and grew. His memory will always be part of my life. Rest in peace, Gary. You will be raised in power.


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Pages: 12345

From: Wiebe and Jeske Funeral Home

Wiebe and Jeske Funeral Home Staff send our condolences to family and friends.

From: Mary Derksen
Relation: We were members of the same church, Emmanuel Mennonite in Abbotsford, BC

Oh, April, know that the Lord will carry you through this time of grief! Praying for you.
Love, Mary

From: Ed & .Louise Janzen
Relation: Members of the same congregation. I

I’m so sorry for your loss, April. May the God of all comfort keep and sustain you.

From: Tracey and Leon Schroeder
Relation: Friends from Valley Crossway Church

Gary was amazingly unique in all the best ways. I can’t imagine anyone else having a Twitter feed that was 80% Canucks, 10% movies and 10% New Testament Greek! A true renaissance man, a quiet spirit, a man of God. He will be missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his dear April his extended family.

From: Henry and Patti Tanaka
Relation: We are long time friends of Brian and Kathy Yamasaki.

Our deepest sympathy to the family of Gary Yamasaki.
May your loving memories help you through this sad and difficult time.

From: Dan Leslie
Relation: Friend of brother.

While I never met Gary, I have known his brother Brian and family for over 40 years. My condolences go out to Gary and his family.

From: Linda Yamasaki
Relation: Cousin

My condolences to April, Brian, Warren and families. I will always remember my cousin with fondness, his soft-spoken manner, politeness and strong faith. Gary lived his life doing what he loved and believed in. His caring for others and his true love for April were always clear. My prayers are with you.

From: Shirley Hsu
Relation: Friends since early days at Peace Church

“In quietness and confidence is your strength,” Isa. 30;15. These words describe Gary so well! Although he could converse in depth about a wide range of topics, he was first of all a good listener. We remember fondly his quiet smile and the visits we had over the years, usually over a shared meal in a Chinese restaurant, a pleasure that was interrupted by the pandemic. May that same quiet confidence be yours, April, as you face the days and weeks ahead.

From: Ron Voth
Relation: Collegue

Gary had an office kitty-corner to mine at the college. My sense as an office mate was that he was very focused on his work. He worked hard to connect with the students using many creative means. He was quiet and always had a smile. He was a scholar! Alongside his schoolwork, he diligently worked on his research areas. I’m saddened by his passing. May God’s presence be a comfort to his family.

From: Ron Dart
Relation: friend on the trail

Gary was a dear, sweet and caring person, thoughtful and handled disappointments in an honest, wise and generous manner. Tears emerged from my soul when I was told he had crossed the river. I’m sure he will be greeted warmly and well, well done his embrace. The times I spent with Gary are treasured ones and will not be forgotten even though his passing is most painful. I will hold our many emails and times spent together in trust and as a gift from the other side. Ron Dart

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In lieu of a memorial service, please celebrate Gary’s life by giving blood, encouraging a health care worker, or doing some other deliberate act of kindness. As well, please leave a memory or tribute by using the “send condolence” link.
Donations in his memory gratefully received by a charity of your choice.

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Donations in his memory
gratefully received by a charity of your choice.

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