NEWPORT BEACH — About 40 people gathered at Irvine Terrace Park on Thursday to honor a man who, along with two friends, helped create a student exchange program and formed a bond of friendship between Newport Beach and Okazaki, Japan.
A bench memorializing Masao Kato was dedicated during the ceremony. Kato died in May in Japan.
"So we have lost a visionary, a humanist, and in short, a good Rotarian," said Daniel Hoffman of the Newport-Balboa Rotary Club. "Above all, I have lost a good friend. But it is also a day of joy because we have the opportunity to get together and enjoy our friendship."
The bench with Kato's name was placed between benches honoring his friends, Wendell Fish and Moe Hamill. The men were all active members of their Rotary clubs, and together they worked with Rotary and the Newport Beach Sister City Assn. to create student exchanges that began in April 1984.