Updated: Jul 24, 2020
Dr. Jerrold Hiura, universally known as Dr. Jerry, passed away on Dec. 26. Although his life might have seemed to be a dichotomy – a technical and scientific dentist who exhibited artistic achievements in poetry, art, and music – Dr. Jerry’s eclectic personality blended his two sides well. In doing so, he left a legacy of philanthropy, cultural support and dental and artistic mentorship. Also, many of San Jose’s distinguished citizens and elected officials appreciated his role as their dentist/advisor.
Jerry’s list of service was numerous and impressive: appointments to the California Arts Commission (vice-chair) and the San Jose Arts Commission, on boards such as the San Jose Museum of Art and the Japantown Community Congress, director of the Sixth Street Mural project, programs at San Jose Jazz Festival and San Jose State University, and, most significantly, co-founder of Contemporary Asian Theatre Scene (CATS). When he, with Steve Yamaguma and Miki Hirabayashi, founded CATS, they envisioned and accomplished its mission to provide platforms for Asian American artists of various media. CATS has presented playwrights workshops, Asian Comedy Nights (Hasan Minhaj, Ali Wong on their ways up!), play readings, film festivals, and live performances.
Silicon Valley Asian Pacific FilmFest is CATS’ latest iteration and, at a screening, Jerry was surprised with two awards: a Commendation from the San Jose Office of Cultural Affairs, signed by all city council members, and the Image Hero Award from SVAPFF/CATS. Numerous other acknowledgments had preceded these honors, but his wife, Lucia Cha, noted that he was especially moved by these – coming from dear and dedicated friends of the San Jose cultural community and his CATS cohorts.
Jerry and Lucia have been strong advocates and generous financial supporters of many institutions and activities. In recognition of this commitment, CATS announced that “our cultural efforts will continue to be dedicated to the lifetime work and in memory of its co-founder, Dr. Jerry Hiura.”
– Reiko Iwanaga, CATS board member