Michael Starrson Masanori Hoshiko passed away Dec. 26, 2016, at the age of 95, in Longmont, Colorado.
Michael was born April 8, 1921, in Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, to his mother Toshie and father Tsunehachi Hoshiko, who emigrated from Japan.
Michael was raised on a chicken and strawberry farm. As the oldest boy of five children, Michael was called upon to help his father set dynamite to clear the land of tree stumps. At age 10, when he lost his father to meningitis, he assumed further responsibility for helping his mother run the family farm, especially translating English on her behalf in business negotiations. When the Second World War came, all persons of Japanese ancestry were relocated away from the coast. Michael secured employment as a domestic servant outside Montreal, which shielded him from prison for evading the evacuation order. In 1943 he went to work in the RCA Victor factory as an inspector of military tank radios, for which he received recognition for “Distinguished Service on the Home Production Front.”
Michael’s education began when he started first grade in a one-room schoolhouse without knowing any English. His mother was committed to her son’s education, keeping him in high school despite community pressure for him to leave school to help on the farm. In Montreal, he attended YMCA College and Sir George William University. After the war, with the assistance of the American Friends Service Committee, he obtained a scholarship to Heidelberg College (Ohio) and completed his bachelor of arts in psychology (1948). In 1949, Michael went on to Bowling Green State University (Ohio) where he obtained his master of arts in experimental psychology. He also studied at the University of Kansas and Illinois State University. He worked as a psychologist in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Toronto Medical School (1952-1955). Michael received his doctorate in speech pathology, hearing, and speech sciences, the first Japanese Canadian to do so, from Purdue University in 1957.
Michael met Patsy “Rose” Dege when he was a graduate student at Illinois State University, and they married on April 7, 1955. In 1957, the couple moved to Carbondale, where they raised their three children. Rose worked as a librarian at Shawnee Library System.
Michael was hired as an Assistant Professor of Speech Pathology and Audiology at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. He helped develop the new department into a significant teaching and research laboratory through grants from the National Institutes of Health, American Cancer Society, and Illinois Department of Mental Health, among others. Michael made many unique innovations at the university, including introducing the first telephone teletypewriter (TTY) communication at SIU, the first biofeedback course and therapy program, and the first personal computer in his department. He retired as professor emeritus and director of the Clinical Center for Speech and Hearing in 1991.
Michael’s lifelong interest in radio and electronics was the basis for many of his achievements, beginning in childhood when he taught himself through correspondence courses and library books. He built his first radio when he was about 10 years old. He developed many instruments, often incorporating use of radio and sound wave frequencies, including the spectrograph, electromyograph, respirometer, radio telemetry, biomedical electronics, and voiceprint identification into clinical and research applications. He was one of the founders of the Biophysics Engineering Program at SIU, taught voiceprint identification to law enforcement and government agents in the USA and abroad, and was an expert witness in criminal cases. He served as the advisor to the Amateur Radio Club, holding the club license W9UIH and personal licenses in Canada (VE2AAS, VE3DNZ) and in the United States (W9CJW). He was on his radio daily, and was active in the local Shawnee Amateur Radio Association and in the Japanese American Amateur Radio Society.
Michael had a strong entrepreneurial spirit, and bought several houses, which he divided into apartments and rented, performing most of the remodeling work himself. He obtained a real estate license, although he never used it commercially.
He was a member of the Carbondale Unitarian Fellowship, holding several leadership positions, and then the First Unitarian Church in Alton, after retirement.
Michael was keenly interested in the history of the Japanese in Canada and America. He wrote many newspaper articles for The New Canadian and the Nikkei Voice. He was instrumental in getting the site of the Japanese-American internment camp in Rohwer, Arkansas, recognized. After he retired, Michael used a grant from the Canadian Redress Foundation to compile, with Rose’s skilled assistance, a documentary photo book about the Japanese-Canadian families in the area where he grew up (Who was Who: Pioneer Japanese Families in Delta and Surrey: Family Histories from British Columbia, Canada, ©1998). The book is stored in the vault in Special Collections at the Vancouver Public Library, British Columbia, as well as other libraries.