William Higuchi and his family stand with a photo of himself and his wife, Setsuko, during the war.

Heart Mountain Mourns the Passing of Dr. William Higuchi

William Iyeo Higuchi, who was incarcerated as an 11-year-old boy from San Jose at Heart Mountain and who became a pioneer in pharmaceutical sciences, died Friday, May 10, at his home in Salt Lake City, Utah. He was 93.

Born in San Jose, California, on March 16, 1931, Higuchi and his family were forced from their farm in San Jose and sent first to the Santa Anita Assembly Center and then to Heart Mountain, where they arrived on September 13, 1942.

While a student in the camp’s high school, Higuchi first met his future wife, Setsuko Saito Higuchi. They later reconnected while students at the University of California at Berkeley, married and had four children, including Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation Chair Shirley Ann Higuchi. 

Higuchi built a storied career in pharmaceutical sciences and was a professor at the universities of Michigan and Utah, where he mentored hundreds of doctoral students from around the world. This support would lead to him being awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Ray with Neck Ribbon, from the Japanese government in 2012. 

In his later years, Higuchi was an active and generous supporter of the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation. 

“Like many Nisei of the Greatest Generation, my father never let his incarceration experience define him,” said Shirley Ann Higuchi. “When we began our work together to fulfill my mother’s dream of building ‘something’ at the Heart Mountain site, he told me that he’s ‘made it in life’ and now his job is to share his story so it never happens to anyone again.”

“Our hearts are heavy with the passing of William Higuchi, a man whose spirit will forever ripple throughout our work at Heart Mountain,” said Heart Mountain Executive Director Aura Sunada Newlin. “We extend our deepest sympathies to the Higuchi family as they grieve.”

The family requests that gifts be made in his memory to the Heart Mountain Wyoming Foundation. Explore our Ways to Give pages HERE.