Jimmy Locke: Veteran, husband, father, and businessman

Jimmy Locke

Jimmy Locke, born Youh K. Locke, passed away on Jan. 5 in Seattle.

Locke was born on Oct. 15, 1917, in Taishan, Guangdong Province, China. He was born into a family of 10 children.  He immigrated to Seattle at age 13 with his father and brother.

He served as staff sergeant in the Fifth Armored Division during WWII.  He saw action in the battles of Ardennes, Normandy Beach, and the Rhineland.

“I was drafted before Pearl Harbor in 1940,” Locke wrote in “Reflections of Seattle’s Chinese Americans,” a Chinese oral history book. “When you’re drafted, you have to tell what you do. I said I’m a cook, so they put me in the kitchen. … We eat good, I’ll tell you that! Steak all the time.”

Locke loved cooking, which developed through years of helping his father, a chef at Virginia Mason Hospital during the Depression. After the war, Locke opened Sadie’s Cafe, a Chinese American restaurant in the Pike Place Market. He also spent nearly 25 years running a neighborhood grocery store at the base of Queen Anne Hill.

At Julie and Jimmy Locke’s 50th wedding anniversary celebration, from left (behind Julia and Jimmy): daughter Rita Yoshihara, her husband, Joe, and daughter-in-law Mona Locke

Locke is well-known for the food cooked for events at the Chinese Baptist Church.

He is the father of Commerce Secretary Gary Locke. Jimmy Locke also prepared the food for his son’s political campaigns.

“Dad always said to us, family comes first,” said Gary. “We remember that he had always sacrificed for the family, for the kids, and the extended family. We used to have a restaurant at Pike Place Market.

The Lockes at an event during Gary Locke's campaign for Washington state governor, from left: Julia, Gary, Mona, and Jimmy

Aunts and uncles would help out at the restaurant so they could pay for [their kids’] schooling. My dad took care of distant family relatives, like took them on trips, helped them settle [in the United States], gave them furniture, and helped them relocate.”

Jimmy Locke never graduated from college, but his five children did, something he was extremely proud of. “He always emphasized the importance of getting a good education,” said Gary. “My dad expected all his kids to go to college.”

Jimmy Locke and son Gary embrace when Gary became King County Executive

Jimmy Locke had always wanted to go to college but was discouraged by his father. His father used to say, “Why do you want to go to college?” Locke obeyed and didn’t attend, which he always regretted.

This was why he worked hard to help pay for his own kids’ education. He also set up college funds for each of his grand kids.

Julie and Jimmy Locke with Kip Tokuda (right) at one of Gary Locke’s fundraiser for governor

Locke was proud of all his kids and their specialties. Jeff works for Microsoft. Jannie owns her own business. Marian works in administration. Rita is an auditor and accountant.

Locke’s other passions included fishing, playing mah jong, and tending to his vegetable garden.

“He lived a full and rich life,” said Gary.

“I follow his example,” said Locke’s daughter Marian Monwai, “with a heart full of compassion for other people.”

Locke is survived by his wife of 63 years, Julie; his children: Marian Monwai (married to Pete), Gary (Mona), Jannie Chow (Eddie), Jeffrey (Doris), Rita Yoshihara (Joe); sisters: Mary Pang (Fon), Annie Chinn (Bob), Ella Wong (Tim), Kim Quang, brother Wayne, 15 grandchildren, 6 great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces and nephews. ♦

Visitation will be held at the Evergreen-Washelli Funeral Home on Jan. 16, from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. A memorial service will be held at First Presbyterian Church of Bellevue, located at 1717 Bellevue Way N.E., Bellevue, on Jan. 17, at 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Locke’s favorite charities, Cornerstone Christian Fellowship, PO Box 724, Issaquah WA 98027; Chinese Baptist Church, 5801 Beacon Avenue South, Seattle WA 98108; or Kin On, 4416 South Brandon Street, Seattle, WA 98118.

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3 Responses to “Jimmy Locke: Veteran, husband, father, and businessman”

  1. John Locke says:

    Uncle Jimmy will be remembered fondly and missed.
    John Locke – Valencia, CA


  1. […] passed away on Jan. 5th 2011, He served as staff sergeant in the Fifth Armored Division WWII. Northwest Asian Weekly | Jimmy Locke: Veteran, husband, father, and businessman *|* Jimmy Locke Jimmy Locke, born Youh K. Locke, passed away on Jan. 5 in Seattle. Locke was born […]

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