When the bells toll today at the Peace Memorial outside of Pine Street United Methodist Church, people will pause to remember the man who erected the memorial after surviving an era of deep prejudice against Japanese Americans.
At 2 p.m., friends and family will gather at the 441 Pine St. church to remember the life of Dr. Robert S. Yasui, who died Aug. 20 at the age of 88.
The story of his life is nothing short of amazing, having faced the World War II hardships of being forced into a Japanese Internment Camp.
Over the years, his family's story was told in a documentary and later a book, "The Stubborn Twig" by Lauren Kessler, which focused on the Yasui family as they migrated from Japan and three generations of struggles his family faced as a result of their ancestry.
In a 2009 interview with the Sun-Gazette, at which point "The Stubborn Twig" was featured during the Oregon Reads Program in that state's libraries, Yasui spoke of his father's love of America.
"He grew up reading about American heroes. He came to America to pursue a dream similar to his favorite American hero, Abraham Lincoln. He wanted to become a lawyer. He worked on railroads and then began going to night school in Portland, Ore. He began working with a local lawyer in his home."
That is when the elder Yasui learned he could not be a lawyer because, at that time, only U.S. citizens were granted the ability to be lawyers.
"He was disappointed. It was his dream," Dr. Yasui said in that interview. "My father became a successful businessman who owned the family store, an orchard, and helped others in obtaining land. He was about 18 at the time. He spoke fluent English and was trusted by both the Japanese and the white merchants in the community."
That time of serenity slowly began to decline. As Yasui described it, "1910 to 1941 was filled with organizations aimed against Japanese immigrants." The second-generation, Yasui remembered, was a time of false accusations and bigotry when "many Americans coined the term the yellow menace."
The Asian Exclusion Act was passed. It was a part of the Immigration Act of 1924. Asians no longer were allowed to migrate into the United States. Slogans such as "only for Americans and Sons of the Golden West" were prevalent.
Then Pearl Harbor was bombed and the war hysteria began. The FBI arrested Masuo Yasui on charges that he was a potential enemy menace. He spent four years in prison during the war and an additional five years after the war.
Though they lost most of their home and belongings, his parents encouraged Dr. Yasui to love America, rather than become bitter. At their insistence, he and his sister moved to Denver, Colo., to pursue their college educations.
"He would say bitterness only hurts those who are bitter," Dr. Yasui related in that 2009 interview.
Dr. Yasui came to Williamsport in the early 1940s, for his medical residency. Here, he met his future wife, Phyllis Hoffman, who was in nursing school.
Nancy Lady, who attended the same church as Yasui, recalled his kindness after her son was hit by a car and placed under the doctor's care.
"He was a kind man, very gentle with my son. But he also cared for the rest of the family, particularly the younger children. He went out of his way to talk to us and explain what was happening," Lady said.
Long-time family friend Marilyn "Mitzi" Burget also recalled Yasui's caring bedside manner.
"He was well known for drawing pictures, when you went to see him, to explain medical procedures," Burget said.
"When my daughter got sick, he came to our home before her surgery, sat down with her and drew pictures to make sure she understood what was going to happen to her in the surgery," she added.
The Yasui family's table often was crowded with friends and family, she recalled.
"Dr. Yasui was a man who believed deeply in faith, hope and love. They've been role models for us," Burget said.
Yasui also served as president of the Lycoming College Medical Society and was inducted into the West Branch Valley Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame for his dedication to sports medicine.
Frank Girardi, former athletic director for Lycoming College, recalled Yasui's dedication to his community, and his unsinkable spirit.
"He certainly dealt with adversity in his life, but you would have never known it by talking to him. He was driven to make this world a better place, and I'll tell you what, he did," Girardi said.
Girardi recalled one afternoon in particular, when he walked the football field with Yasui.
"He told me he wanted to walk around the football field, so we set off. After we got the whole way around it, he looked at me and said, 'Joe, we've got to get this field in better condition than it is. I don't want these kids to turn their ankles on it,' " Girardi said.
"He was that kind of person. He worried because he cared so deeply about others," he added.
Creighton J. Hale, former president of Little League Baseball, recalled how important Yasui was to the youth sports organization.
"Little League has benefited tremendously from Dr. Yasui's professional talent," Hale said.
With the help of his wife, Yasui oversaw the pre-examinations of hundreds of baseball players. Hale recalled one year in particular, when it became clear just how important the pre-exam was.
"We had a team come in who were infected with a (strand of) Asian flu virus. Dr. Yasui had that team placed in quarantine. Throughout the week, four of those children ended up in the hospital," Hale said.
"Without Dr. Yasui, there's no telling how much further that flu would have spread," he added.
During sports seasons, Yasui would arrange his schedule so he was available for every game. He remained on-call throughout most of his professional career, often leaving in the middle of the night to attend to emergency situations.
"He was the epitome of a true Christian gentleman, the type of person whose beliefs are shown through their actions," recalled Lady, a long-time friend.
Yasui was a long-time member of the Pine Street United Methodist Church. In the mid-1980s, he commissioned a Peace Tower monument in honor of his parents. The monument, which contains chimes, stands on church grounds at the corner of Pine and Fifth streets in the city.
Those who walk by may notice the sound of chimes coming from within the tower. According to friends, Yasui hoped the tower would give citizens a place to rest, meditate and find solace in times of hardship. The plaque of the tower reads "dedicated ... to the humanity that makes us all one."
Yasui is survived by his wife, five children, 12 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.