Hitoshi “Tosh” Utsumi ’65, of Lincoln, posthumously received the Paul Kersenbrock Humanitarian Award, which is given in memory of Paul Dean Kersenbrock ’63, and presented to worthy Doane alumni who, in the judgment of the Alumni Council, distinguish themselves through extraordinary, unselfish dedication and service to others in their work and lifestyle. Utsumi is one of nine Doane alumni recognized during the 2022 Alumni Awards Banquet on Oct. 9. Alumni who receive these awards exemplify the ideals taught at Doane, through their leadership and service throughout their careers and lives.
He was born December 11, 1942 in Omaha, Nebraska, to Masami and Haruye Utsumi. His father immigrated to America from Japan and lived in California, where he met and married Tosh's mother, Haruye, in 1937.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and because of the Utsumi's Japanese heritage, the United States government gave the family a choice: transfer to an internment camp or move to the Midwest.
The Utsumis moved to Omaha, and eventually purchased a flower shop and moved to Lincoln in January 1946.
Tosh attended Doane, where he was a member of the Alpha Omega fraternity, Student Congress and the Doane Tiger Yearbook as a photographer. He graduated with a degree in theoretical mathematics.
Following graduation, Tosh worked for the family business, Azalealand Floral & Greenhouse, until 2010. He simultaneously worked as district manager for Florist Transworld Delivery, organizing national conferences and conventions for the company.
“I arrived at Doane as a shy kid. Doane allowed and encouraged my intellectual and social development by providing friendly, knowledgeable staff and an accepting student environment,” Utsumi shared in a statement to the Office of Institutional Advancement. “The support built my confidence and became the basis for implementing the latest technical trends into my successful family business.”
Tosh served on the Doane Alumni Council from 2016-202. He was a member of the Doane Capital Alumni Chapter in Lincoln and attended numerous events.
Tosh passed away at the age of 79 in January 2022.
“I can attest that the members of the Advancement and Alumni Offices (as well as members of our Council) have always had nothing but good things to say about Tosh. He was quick to volunteer to help with events, event logistics, donations, advice and so much more. He was a successful business owner and longtime supporter of Doane, its students and its promising future,” said Michael Stehlik ’07, director of alumni engagement.