STOCKTON -- The Stockton community is mourning the loss of a local favorite, Tom Koga Sr., who passed away last week at the age of 94.
Outside Tom’s Market in Stockton a small memorial and short messages gave thanks to a man who loved to give.
"He took care of the neighborhood when they needed money for milk or groceries or whatnot," said Tom Koga Jr. "Helped them out until they got the next checks. That was our dad."
Koga Jr. says his father grew up in Stockton and after being held in an internment camp during World War II spent time in Chicago before returning to Stockton. There he opened two stores, with the Miner Avenue location being the only one still open.
"He had a large family. Tom’s Market truly had a large family," Koga Jr. said.
Leslie Davis became part of that family as she grew up near the Koga family in West Stockton. She would go to Lodi Lake every Sunday with the family and for the past 15 years she has worked at Tom’s Market.
"I feel I was paying him back for what he did for me as a child because I didn’t have a lot of family stuff and he gave me a family," Davis told FOX40.
Several customers expressed their condolences as they ordered sandwiches Monday, with Tom’s special of bologna, cooked salami and several types of ham, which was served with a Koga Sr. smile on the side for over 50 years.
"He liked to say, 'How 'bout that,' and, 'What a day.' Those were his sayings," Davis said. "When he was feeling good he’d say, 'How 'bout that'. So when he started failing, we missed that. So when he would come in and say, 'How 'bout that,' we were like, 'He said it,' and we were just thrilled."
Koga Jr. says his dad would be shocked by the outpouring of support on social media. He told FOX40 his father just loved to work and give without expecting something in return.
"One thing that sticks in my head is I have some big shoes to fill," he said.