Miko Matsubayashi had a kind heart, whether he was setting up a karaoke machine at the house of Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully or connecting with a children’s clothing manufacturer overseas so his wife could realize her lifelong dream.
“He was always thinking of ways to help people,” Kimberley Matsubayashi said.
Mikio and Kimberley were together for 35 years, including almost three years as a married couple, before he died in February.
At one point in their relationship, Mikio asked Kimberley, a light attendant, if she had ever wanted to do something different. She had always wanted to run a children’s clothing store, so her husband introduced her to a friend in Japan who produced kids apparel.
“The next thing I knew, I was writing a business plan to import children’s clothing from Japan to the U.S.,” she said. “He helped me gain an introduction to Neiman Marcus. I was selling this clothing to them, which was very high end.”
The venture lasted three years in the mid-1980s before a weakened U.S. dollar made doing business in Asia too difficult, Kimberley said. But she learned a lot and met a lot of people in
Japan through the vast network Mikio had created through his international consulting business.
Roger Dela Rosa is engaged to Kimberley’s daughter, Bridget, and he got a taste of Matsubayashi’s entrepreneurial spirit. Roger and Mikio knew each other for only about 10 years before Matsubayashi died, but it was long enough for them to form a business venture tied to the food truck craze in Southern California. It revolved around selling okonomiyaki, a Japanese pancake dish, and Dela Rosa, a graphic designer, had the task of creating a brand for the business.
“He’s in his early 70s and decided he wanted to run a food truck,” Dela Rosa said. “We did a lot of research and ate at a lot of food trucks. It was right at the time they became popular. It was impressive because he was right on the cusp of doing something that was really innovative.”
The concept evolved into potentially opening a casual dining restaurant, but it never panned out as the food truck trend began to subside in Southern California and Matsubayashi started fighting cancer, Dela Rosa said.
Matsubayashi had a strong bond with the Los Angeles Dodgers after bringing the world’s irst outdoor videoboard to Dodger Stadium. His close relationship with the team extended to Scully, the Dodgers’ Hall of Fame broadcaster.
“Vin would always call him up and ask him to set up karaoke in his home,” Dela Rosa said. “There were all these eccentric things that Mikio had in his relationships that he would end up doing.”
Kimberley attended 13 Super Bowls with Mikio, even though she was more of a baseball fan. It was during some of those events that she observed the strong impression he made on
others in the sports industry.
“People I would meet at the same time he met them would say five years later that they had known him for 20 years and he was their best friend,” she said. “That happened on more than one occasion. He was that kind of person.”
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