GVN editor Gary Kohatsu Honored by City of Gardena

By Brett Callwood

Gary Kohatsu

Gary Kohatsu, editor of the Gardena Valley News and the Culver City News, was last week honored by the City of Gardena for his years of service as a reporter and photographer that have made him a huge asset to Gardena. “For as many years that I can think back, Gary has been at the Gardena Valley News, writing stories and taking pictures,”said Mayor Tasha Cerda. “He’s always been just quietly working, and I love the way he showcases Gardena. He makes us look great, and not just elected officials, whether it’s veterans or any Gardena residents. I’m happy that we could honor him and all the work he does.”

“Gary is well known to the Gardena community,” said Glenn Mitchell, Community Service Director at the Carson-Gardena-Dominguez Rotary Club, who nominated Kohatsu for the award. “All the service clubs, civic organizations, city leaders and many of the city personnel are well acquainted with Gary. I met Gary over 30 years ago when I was working on a Gardena Rotary Club, now the Carson-Gardena-Dominguez Rotary Club, project to provide Thanksgiving food boxes to needy families in the Gardena area. The Rotary Club is an International Service Organization. The Thanksgiving food box program is a Community Service project we do every year. Gary had come to our event to get information and pictures to hi-light what the Rotary Club was doing for those families. We have been friends ever since.”

Kohatsu is 67, 68 on March 27, and he was born in Los Angeles. His father, Larry, was a tomato farmer-turned-gardener. Larry was tragically killed in a gas station robbery in 1969. His mother worked sales at Bullock’s Del Amo from 1966 to 1986. He has one younger sister, Maureen. He grew up in Venice Beach, and attended Broadway Elementary School in Venice. He moved to Carson in 1965, and then to Harbor City in 1971. “I developed an interest in photography in the fall of 1971, while a senior at Narbonne High,” Kohatsu said. “My first camera was a Honeywell Pentax Spotmatic 1. ”Kohatsu graduated from Narbonne High, Harbor City, in 1972. He operated a Bruce Lee Fan Club from 1976-77, which had been started by a friend a year earlier. He lived in Illinois for half a year, but returned home to L.A. in April ‘81. He received an AA in Journalism at LA Harbor College in 1983. He studied photojournalism and journalism at CSULB in the mid-1980s and was a sports writer on the Daily 49er in the spring 1985. He served as a staff photographer on the Daily 49er in the spring 1989, and received a BA in English from Cal State University, Long Beach in 1990

His life with the Gardena Valley News began in July 1989, when he was hired as a real estate/editorial photographer and sports writer. He became editor in 1991, simultaneously becoming editor of the Culver City News and Santra Monica’s Blue Pacific News. He has been married once, between 1994 and 2008, and has one stepson. Kohatsu began teaching photojournalism at El Camino College in the fall of 2007. He retired from teaching in June 2019, and has been semi-retired from the GVN since February 2020.

Kohatsu received the Golden Triangle of Distinguished Service Award in the late 1990s, Citizen of the Year (honor shared with the GVN Publisher Don Algie) in 2004, a Melvin Jones Fellowship from the Gardena Valley Lions Club, and a Paul Harris Fellowship from the South Bay Sunrise Rotary Club. 

This latest honor came from the city of Gardena, the Gardena Police Department and the LA County Supervisors District 4 office through Holly Mitchell and nominated by Mitchell.

Mitchell said that Kohatsu has always been supportive of the Rotary Club. “Gardena is a small city with a lot of community events,” he said. “Gary is always there taking photos and then writing informative articles about those events. I have seen him taking pictures and getting the information for upcoming articles, early morning or late evening events, doesn’t matter to him. He is always on duty as a reporter and photographer. Since the GVN is a truly local newspaper, it’s my opinion that when people see pictures and articles of local events, they have civic pride and a deeper relationship with their city. Gary’s articles and pictures reinforce that feeling. He deserves to be honored by the City of Gardena and the 2nd District Supervisor, Los Angeles County, for his years of dedication and service to the community.”

Everyone at the GVN and CCN knows that Kohatsu is a supremely talented editor, writer and photographer, and a man of integrity. His award is well-deserved, and it’s an honor to work alongside him.