Naoto Sekiguchi passed away on September 21, 2021, at the family home in Fayetteville. Naoto was born January 19, 1958, in Tokyo, Japan, to Tochiko and Tetstundo Sekiguchi. As an infant, he, his mother, and elder sister made the voyage to America and moved to Stillwater, Oklahoma, where his father was completing his doctoral degree at Oklahoma State. The Sekiguchis eventually settled in Fayetteville, where they were among the town’s first Asian families. Naoto was a compassionate, gentle, and kind person from the start, who was always creating.
He was a 1976 graduate of Fayetteville High School and graduated on the senior honor roll.
Naoto earned his architectural degree from the University of Arkansas in 1982, and began his career at Fox and Fowle Architects, and later with James Wines at SITE Architecture Art Design in New York City. He worked at numerous firms in Seattle; the Fay Jones and Maurice Jennings studio in Fayetteville; Eric Owen Moss in Culver City, California; Jennifer Siegal OMD in Los Angeles; and firms in Tokyo, Japan, and Penang, Malaysia. Although he was a talented architect, Naoto really shone through his teaching. He worked in the architecture departments at the University of Oregon, University of Minnesota, Chiang Mai University, and Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. He was dedicated and invested in his students and left a lasting impression on many of them.
Throughout his life, Naoto traveled the world from Greece to Laos to Malawi. More recently he found homes in Harbin Hot Springs and Sierra Hot Springs in California, and fell in love with Portugal. Naoto approached each new place with curiosity and each person he met with warmth and compassion forming friendships everywhere he went. You could pick a location and, chances are, Naoto had been there and would be able to regale you with a wild and funny story.
Later in his life, Naoto focused increasingly on his creative pursuits, particularly his writing and music, which celebrated the beauty of humanity but also challenged with humor the ills and injustice he saw in the world. Naoto was profoundly empathetic, he felt the world around him even when it hurt. When he saw something he knew was wrong he spoke out and stood his ground. He cared for and gave to people with all of himself.
Naoto is celebrated and deeply missed by his siblings, Tomoko Sekiguchi, Mary Kirasich (Mark), June Sekiguchi, and Eugene Sekiguchi (Alison Parry); as well as his nieces and nephews, Hana Mei, Quin, and Jaden Breeland, Aya Cockram (Gareth Newnham), Joseph Kirasich and Kaitlin Kirasich Kinzer (Sean), and Evan and Mia Sekiguchi who he loved and cherished. He is also survived by greatniece, Cora Newnham, who will grow up listening to his music and being delighted by his art, and dear friends Jane Scroggs, Randall “Poot” Cannon, Jon Green, Emmitte Watson, Jim Horn, Mike Breeland, Michael Cockram, and many others. Our hearts are broken with his loss, but we are thankful that he is resting in peace closer to his mother and father and that he left so much of himself with us in his writing, music, art, and in our wonderful memories of him.
A celebration of life to be held at a future date will be announced.