After working at the Doubleday bookstore in New York, and after briefly retiring to Paris with a young man's dream of writing the Great American Novel, Yosh settled upon a career as an English teacher. His first appointments were at the Cherry Lawn School in Connecticut, then at Oakwood Friends School in New York. In 1963, Yosh joined the faculty of the English Department at Plymouth Carver Regional High School, and served as department chair. Yosh remained at PCHS for 28 years, playing a key role in developing the high school English curriculum and offering path-breaking courses in filmmaking and visual literacy, among other subjects.
A fierce advocate of freedom of thought, Yosh once publicly defended the teaching of J.D. Salinger's book, Catcher in the Rye, against would-be school censors. He was a widely respected and admired teacher who sought to educate his students about the human condition in all its complexities and contradictions. To this day, former students of his speak of the enormous impact he had on their lives.
Throughout his life, Yosh was a passionate advocate for social justice who identified with the most vulnerable in society. Inspired by the Civil Rights Movement, he designed and taught a course at the high school on the African-American experience. He also taught inmates at a local prison and was an active supporter of Native American causes. A patriot in the mold of Mark Twain, whom he admired (and taught), Yosh loved his country, but resisted its government's war-making.
After retiring from the Plymouth schools, Yosh became a full-time artist, concentrating on political and social themes and working in oils, acrylics, watercolor, silkscreen, and sculpture. He received a Masters in Fine Art from Bridgewater State College and studied at the Massachusetts College of Art. In the 1990s, he was one of the co-organizers of Dave's Art Gallery, a political art gallery in Cambridge, as well as the Gallery of Social & Political Art in Boston. Yosh's artwork, the subject of a gallery exhibition in Boston in 2004, can be viewed at www.sanbonmatsu.net.
Active in the community, Yosh was long a member of the Unitarian Universalist congregation at First Parish of Plymouth and was also one of the early promoters of the excavation of Parting Ways, a settlement of African-American freedmen who had fought in the Revolution. Yosh also had many personal interests, including chess, pool, ping-pong, tennis, art-house cinema, home electronics, skiing, gardening, painting, and political debate. He loved books and reading, and he maintained an extensive personal library of over one thousand volumes.
Yosh put family above all else. He was happiest when biking or kayaking with his partner, or camping or going to the beach with family. He was a loving and unusually involved and devoted father and grandfather, never too busy to help his children with their math homework, to read their poetry, or to create sand sculptures for them at the beach (including life-sized cars they could sit in). He hand-crafted dollhouses for each of his daughters, replete with wall-papered rooms, carved banisters, and a working doorbell.
Yosh is predeceased by his brothers, Mitsuo, Yoshiya, Kozo, Teruo, Koichi, and his sister, Ruri. He is survived by his partner, Donna Petrangelo, and her son, Christian Petrangelo, as well as his children John, Lisa, and Kira, his grandchildren Emmanuel, Karina, Vanya, and Rohan, his Corgis, Zorro and Sundance, and by his former wife, Marianne Sanbonmatsu. He is also survived by a brother, Akira Loveridge-Sanbonmatsu, his sister in law, Joan Loveridge-Sanbonmatsu, his sister in law, Carmen Gmez, of Spain, and by several nieces and nephews and their families.
Yosh will be remembered by all who knew him as a legendary teacher, a loving father, grandfather, husband, and helpmate, and as a man of great dignity and moral seriousness who nonetheless retained his sense of playfulness, good humor, compassion, and humility to the end of his days. He was a modest man of more than modest accomplishments.
Donations in his name may be made to the Southern Poverty Law Center or to Doctors without Borders. A private memorial service will be held at a later date. Online guest book please visit www.cartmelldavis.com
Cartmell-Davis Funeral Home
150 Court St.