Distinguished Asian Americans: A Biographical Dictionary

By Hyung-Chan Kim; Dorothy Cordova et al. | Go to book overview

JOHN FUGUE AISO

(1909–1987)

Judge

Judge John Fugue Aiso was born in Burbank, California, on December 14, 1909. He attended LeConte Junior High School in Hollywood, where he ran for—and won by a margin of 600 votes—the office of student body president. However, pressure from angry parents, local newspapers, and an anti-Asian student petition resulted in the school administration’s suspension of student government until after Aiso graduated.

Aiso attended Hollywood High School, where he applied for but was rejected from the Junior ROTC program. When he tried out for cheer-leader, the principal “advised” him to drop out. He did join the debate team and eventually became its captain. Aiso led the Hollywood High School debate team to a Southern California High Schools championship in 1926. He was the first Japanese American to be elected to the honorary Ephebian Society. Aiso was also selected by faculty members to be the valedictorian of his class.

At a preliminary oratorical contest on the U.S. Constitution sponsored by the American Legion, Aiso took first place. This made him eligible to become the representative of his high school at the next level of competition. At this point, the principal called him to his office and told him to choose between the valedictory position or continuing in the oratorical contest. Aiso chose the valedictory position. The second-place winner, Herbert Wenig, represented the school amid much controversy about the ultimatum that forced Aiso to make the choice. Wenig went on to win $500, a paid trip to Europe, and the right to represent the Pacific Coast in the final contest held in Washington, D.C. Aiso served as Wenig’s coach.

While on the East Coast, Aiso called on Ambassador Matsudaira of Japan, who encouraged him to apply to colleges on the East Coast. Matsudaira gave him an introductory letter to Brown University’s president, Dr. W. H. P. Faunce. On meeting Aiso, Faunce promised him a scholarship if he attended Brown.

Immediately after Aiso graduated from high school at age sixteen he studied the Japanese language for ten months at Seijo Gakuen in Tokyo. In the fall of 1927, when he was almost seventeen years old, Aiso re-

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Distinguished Asian Americans: A Biographical Dictionary
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Preface i
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction xiii
  • Kyutaro Abiko 1
  • John Fugue Aiso 15
  • Chang Apana 18
  • Thang Nguyen Barrett 28
  • Benjamin J. Cayetano 37
  • Boona Cheema 52
  • Nna Chen Chennault 55
  • Connie Chung 76
  • Victoria Manalo Draves 89
  • Bobby Enriquez 94
  • March Fong Eu 97
  • Soon Hyun 130
  • Lawson Fusao Inada 134
  • Maxine Hong Kingston 164
  • Michelle Kwan 172
  • Genevieve (Genny) Lim 192
  • John Keun Lim 196
  • Daniel S. C. Liu 200
  • Benjamin Menor 238
  • Patsy Takemoto Mink 246
  • Hiroshi H. Miyamura 252
  • Ronald Tai Young Moon 256
  • Toshio Mori 258
  • Josie Cruz Natori 262
  • Isamu Noguchi 266
  • Soon Tek Oh 270
  • Vincent H. Okamoto 273
  • James Matsumoto Omura 278
  • Safi U. Qureshy 295
  • Robert Santos 310
  • George Shima 316
  • Paull Hobom Shin 318
  • Sichan Siv 322
  • Stanley Sue 328
  • Amy Tan 335
  • Togo William Tanaka 337
  • Chang Lin Tien 339
  • Edison Uno 343
  • Charles B. Wang 345
  • Jade Snow Wong 355
  • Appendix A - Fields of Professional Activity 373
  • Appendix B - Ethnic Subgroups 389
  • Index 395
  • Editors 429
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