SANTA MARIA, Calif. - The Santa Maria Valley Railroad announced the passing of Director Betty Chiyoko Himoto on Wednesday, Jan. 22.
Himoto died at the age of 95. She is described as a tireless advocate for rail transportation and an unwavering supporter of reinvestment for the company.
The Santa Maria Valley Railroad was purchased by the Coast Belle Rail Corp on October 1, 2006. Himoto joined the Board immediately after this ownership change and kept that position until the day she passed.
Himoto helped to revitalize the Santa Maria Valley Railroad, increasing rail traffic five times while rebuilding its track infrastructure and customer base.
Betty Himoto was born in Burbank, California, on July 4, 1924. She was the fourth of six children to Kameto and Tschiyo Hori. Himoto grew up on a hardscrabble farm in Burbank and later moved to Ryde, California.
During World War II, Himoto's family was sent to Tule Lake Relocation Center with 110,000 other Japanese Americans who were relocated out of the West Coast.
Betty married Roy Himoto in 1950. They had four children together and moved to the Central Coast in 1996.
The Santa Maria Valley Railroad was led by her sons Robert and Raymond Himoto in 2006. The company says it remains committed to carrying her legacy and vision for the future.
Memorial services are pending.