2019 Women of the Year Announced

This year’s luncheon event will be held at the Quiet Cannon, Rooms Crystal 1 and 3, 901 N. Via San Clemente, Montebello, on Sunday, May 5, at 12:30 pm.

• Linda Aratani was born in Boyle Heights in 1947 to George and Sakaye Aratani. Her older sister, Donna, was two years older and was born in Minneapolis while their father taught Japanese to military personnel at Fort Snelling. The family eventually moved to Montebello.

Aratani’s father was a businessman, and together with other associates, started American Commercial Incorporated, which launched a very successful dinnerware product called Mikasa. During this time, both of Aratani’s parents became involved in community service with their focus on supporting the Japanese community in Los Angeles. Her father eventually launched another successful product line called Kenwood Electronics. With the success of both products, her parents were able to pursue their long-life dream of philanthropy.

The family moved from Montebello to Hollywood in 1959. Aratani and her sister attended Le Conte Junior High and Hollywood High School, where Aratani volunteered for several organizations, including Los Angeles Orthopedic Hospital and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. She also began to develop a very strong interest in medicine through her physiology and biology classes. She became acquainted with rehabilitation — physical, occupational and speech therapy — and earned her bachelor’s degree in occupational therapy from San Jose State University.

In 1970, Aratani landed her first job at Rancho Los Amigos Hospital in Downey, a nationally recognized rehabilitation center. In 1973, she married Stephen Yusa. They welcomed their first born, Jeff, in 1977, then Jann in 1979, and finally Joy in 1984. In 1992, Aratani left Rancho and took the position of rehab director at Bay Harbor Hospital and Rehab. In 1995, she started her own rehab company with a physical therapist and provided rehabilitation services at South Bay Keiro Nursing Home in Gardena.

It was during that time that Aratani became increasingly involved with the Aratani Foundation. She began to attend foundation meetings and community functions with her parents, Tets Murata, and their secretary, Betty Teves. Aratani noticed how dedicated the community was in ensuring that Japanese American culture continued to thrive for generations to come, which happens to be the mission statement of her family’s foundation.