Kay K. Fukushima, a Sacramento businessman who met world leaders and promoted local service projects as past president of the International Association of Lions Clubs, died Nov. 30 of cancer, his family said. He was 75.
Mr. Fukushima was chosen to lead the international Lions at the group's annual conference in 2002. He served a year as president of the world's biggest nongovernmental organization, with 1.35 million members in more than 200 countries. Lions Clubs organize and support many types of service projects, including fighting blindness, helping seniors and hungry people, and caring for the environment.
He traveled to 78 countries and met with many leaders, including Chinese President Jiang Zemin, Pope John Paul II, Prince Charles of Great Britain and Prince Rainier of Monaco. Under his leadership, the Lions reorganized clubs in China that had been disbanded during the communist revolution and started their first club in Vatican City. He also visited and supported organizational improvements in African countries.
During his year as president, "my husband was only home 24 days," said his wife, Denise. "He had speaking engagements all over the world. He was very good at inspiring people to get involved."
An insurance executive, Mr. Fukushima joined the Sacramento Senator Lions Club in 1965 and was named president in 1972. He led the group's efforts on many local service projects, including Fairytale Town improvements at William Land Park, fundraising for the Sacramento Zoo and programs to help students, young athletes and visually impaired people.
He rose through the Lions ranks to many leadership positions, including district governor, California-Nevada chairman and international board member. He chaired the group's 1988 convention in Denver and received many top Lions awards.
Born in 1937 in Sacramento, Mr. Fukushima grew up near Clarksburg and Courtland in the Sacramento River Delta. His parents were farmers who were forced to leave home with their two sons for a Tule Lake internment camp during World War II.
He studied electronics at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo and was drafted into the Army to work on a booster rocket for space flights. After his discharge, he transferred to California State University, Sacramento, and earned a marketing degree in 1965.
He opened an insurance agency and grew the business to include 16 branch offices. He lived in Sacramento and had two children with his wife of 47 years.
Mr. Fukushima was active in fundraising for charities and health programs, including Easter Seals and UC Davis pediatric services. He encouraged Lions Clubs to expand beyond their traditional support for vision programs to include other community needs.
"His motto was 'One heart, one world,' " said Carl Burson, former international Lions board member. "It was all about sharing and caring and making a difference in the community you live in."
Kay K. Fukushima
Born: Feb. 28, 1937
Died: Nov. 30, 2012
Survived by: Wife, Denise Fukushima of Sacramento; children, Keith Fukushima and Cori Ayers, both of Elk Grove; four grandchildren
Services: Memorial, 1 p.m. Friday at Sacramento Elks Lodge No. 6, 6446 Riverside Blvd., Sacramento