When Willie Takahashi died Aug. 30 at age 81, he left a legacy few of us will ever be able to match. Bonsai master, his wonderful plants exist all over the Sunshine Coast.
A modest man, Taka-hashi was fond of saying, "As the twig is bent, so shall the tree grow."
And he spent many hours bending those trees. He was featured in local newspapers from the late 1970s on. Spotlights were shone on the man and the beautiful gardens he patiently created. From his home in Davis Bay, Takahashi spent the many hundreds of hours necessary to create perfect little trees.
"It's a work of art. It's never finished," he said in an interview with Craig Spence in February 1991.
Takahashi explained that he never got impatient with the process because bonsai was his hobby not his job. It wasn't a chore but a labour of love for the talented gardener.
After he retired from Port Mellon, Takahashi turned to landscaping, marrying his work with his vocation. His hand was felt in many gardens from Langdale to Pender Harbour.
Takahashi was born in Japan on Dec. 29, 1928. He spent many childhood years in the New Denver internment camp during the Second World War. His father died when Takahashi was 18. As was the custom in Japanese families, he became the man of the family and it was his responsibility to provide for his mother and siblings. The eldest in the family, Takahashi had two brothers and two sisters.
His mother was a seamstress; between her work and the son's earnings from odd jobs, they were able to keep the family together. Shortly after his father's death, Takahashi won a car in Hope. He sold the vehicle and was able to put a down payment on a house. The family was so poor that furniture was only a dream. They used orange crates for chairs.
Takahashi came to the Sunshine Coast 40 years ago. He was a long-time member of the Kinsmen Club and the Sechelt Legion and an avid member of the West Coast Bonsai Society. Every month he went into West Vancouver for the club's meetings.
A generous teacher, Takahashi shared his knowledge with many fledging bonsai learners. He told Spence that he could get an enthusiast up and running with plants to show for his or her efforts in only five weeks of instruction.
Takahashi lived on Laurel Avenue, and evidence of his talent still exists at his former home. His passion lives on for many to enjoy.
Takahashi is survived by his sister Kaz Takahashi and brother Joe Takahashi.