October 18, 2012 – January 2013
The Bancroft Library Reading Room Exhibit Cases
Open during the operating hours of the Bancroft Reading Room
The University of California, Berkeley, Class of 1942 boasts at least two distinguished members with connections to The Bancroft Library. We shine the spotlight on John (Jack) Rosston and Dr. Kenji Sayama, as they celebrate their 70th reunion.
John (Jack) Rosston
To pay for transportation from his home in San Francisco to UC Berkeley during his freshman year, Jack Rosston held a number of jobs offered by the National Youth Administration, a New Deal agency. As a sophomore, he was able to move into Sheridan Hall, part of the UC cooperative system, where he stayed until 1942. (Sheridan closed in 1943, due to a shortage of men during World War II. The structure, now a fraternity house, still stands on the northwest corner of Piedmont Avenue and Dwight Way.) Even while working part-time, Rosston managed to participate heavily in campus activities. He spent two years each on the staff of the California Engineer, the Elections Board, and the Housing Board, to name a few. After graduating with a B.S. in agriculture, Rosston went on to attend the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
As a Cal alumnus, Rosston has continued to be just as active, if not more so. In 1980-1981, he served as an ex-officio member of the UC Board of Regents while president of the California Alumni Association. He is a major advocate of the UC Berkeley Library. Besides being a founder and past president of the Library Advisory Board, he has served a chair of The Bancroft Library Council of the Friends. He also conducted and donated an oral history interview that is now part of The Bancroft Library’s holdings. Not having forgotten his roots as a co-op member, Rosston remains involved with the Berkeley Student Cooperative Alumni Association.
Dr. Kenji Sayama
Kenji Sayama spent his childhood in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of Los Angeles. After high school, he first enrolled at Los Angeles City College, but decided to transfer to UC Berkeley for his sophomore year. His Boy Scout troop leader was himself a Cal graduate, and having learned of Sayama’s interest in medicine, encouraged him to apply. Sayama made the trek up north and by junior year, had settled into Atherton House, a UC co-op house that was on Atherton Street. One of his roommates was William C. Rockwell, who was the first to play Oski, the Cal mascot. During his senior year in December 1941, the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred, followed by the US entrance into World War II. In February 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which authorized the military to relocate people of Japanese ancestry to internment camps. Although not yet identified for detention, Sayama decided to leave Cal and return home to Los Angeles in March 1942. He was just weeks shy of graduation, but fortunately was granted his diploma on the basis of his mid-term grades. He received it at the Santa Anita Assembly Center, where his family had been detained temporarily. The Sayama family would then be sent to the Rohwer War Relocation Center in Arkansas While there, Sayama taught eighth-grade science. He was able to leave the camp by enlisting in the US Army. He served four years in the 100th Infantry Battalion, 442nd Regimental Combat Team and Military Intelligence Service, receiving training in the US and interpreting for the police system in Japan.
After his discharge in 1947, Sayama enrolled once again at Cal, under the GI Bill. He earned a master’s degree in 1950, followed by a Ph.D. in zoology in 1953. In 1957, he was appointed chief laboratory technologist in a lab owned by the Downey, California-based Gallatin Medical Group, and worked there until 1996. He also established the Centro Analytical Medical Laboratory with another Cal alumnus in 1969 and was its director of laboratory operations until 1997. UC Berkeley held a special convocation in 1992 to honor the Nisei members of the class of 1942. Wearing cap and gown, Sayama received his diploma from classmate Jack Rosston. In November 2011, a major national honor was bestowed upon him, when he and dozens of other Japanese-American World War II veterans received Congressional Medals of Honor in Washington, DC, one of the country’s highest civilian honors. In early 2012, Sayama donated his medal and its accompanying documentation to The Bancroft Library, which also houses an oral history interview with him, conducted by N. H. (Dan) Cheatham.