At the Sept. 5 Mercer Island City Council meeting, Jack Sameshima was recognized for his leadership and sportsmanship in the senior community, receiving the Flash Family Inspirational Award.
Each year, the city’s department of Youth and Family Services gives the award to a Mercer Island senior (55 and older) who exemplifies the spirit of good sportsmanship or community leadership, and who possesses an optimistic attitude and friendly demeanor while acting as a role model to others. Seniors may be nominated for their role(s) in the area of organizing, or promoting sports or activities.
The Flash Family Inspiration Award was founded in 2009 by the late community artist and activist Phil Flash to recognize the power of positive role modeling by seniors.
Sameshima won the 2017 award for his outstanding work with organized pickleball on Mercer Island and his welcoming presence to others, including newcomers in particular. A longtime resident, Sameshima has been playing pickleball weekly since the sport began locally in the 1970s, and at the Community and Event Center since it opened. He’ll be 92 this month.
Although he would say he’s “just an ordinary guy,” Sameshima has lived through some extraordinary times, according to the city’s weekly newsletter. As a teenager, he served in WWII with the 442th Infantry Regiment, the highly decorated Japanese-American combat team, enduring severe injuries to his right leg and foot. After the war, he raised a family in Washington, and worked at Sandpoint naval air station.
With his positive and welcoming attitude on and off the court, Sameshima “embodies the spirit of the Flash Family Inspiration Award and is a man respected by many, demonstrating sportsmanship, leadership, a winning attitude and sincere friendship,” according to the city.