On the morning of May 13, William Doi, 65, drove to a Ford dealership and placed a down payment on a family van. That afternoon he told neighbors about the vehicle and talked excitedly about touring the state. He suffered a heart attack three years ago, and his wife had suffered a stroke, but both were feeling better and were looking forward to “living it up,” he told them.
Early the next morning, an assailant crawled through an open window in their Monterey Park home, shot him in the head and assaulted his wife. Doi managed to telephone the emergency 911 number before losing consciousness. His call, which flashed his address on a police dispatcher’s screen as he was dying, saved his wife’s life, police said.
Doi, who had recently retired from his job as international sales manager at Santa Fe Trails Trucking Co., grew up in the Salinas Valley. He was placed with other Japanese Americans in an Arizona relocation camp during World War II and later joined the 442nd U.S. Army Regimental Combat Team, a highly decorated Japanese-American unit.
After the war he moved to Chicago, where he attended Northwestern University and worked as a shipping clerk to support his wife and baby. He moved steadily up the corporate ladder and in 1972 moved to California. “He was one of the hardest workers and best salesman I ever knew,” a former boss said.
A witty and extroverted man, Doi belonged to the East Side Optimist Club. He liked golf and the Los Angeles Lakers and doted on his 4-year-old grandson, taking him to Japanese festivals, carnivals, the beach, his daughter said. Overhearing her conversation, her son sobbed: “I want my grandpa back. I want my grandpa back.”
The Rev. Ken Yamaguchi of the Buddhist Church of San Francisco said he and Doi used to have rambling philosophical conversations.
“He worked hard and loved his Jaguar, Cadillac and nice home. But in spite of all that he told me several times that we have to share our lives and thoughts with each other . . . because in the end that’s all we really have.”