Hiroshi Daifuku (1920 - 2012)
19 July. ICCROM is saddened to announce the passing on 12 July of Hiroshi Daifuku. Representing UNESCO, he was instrumental in guiding the early development of ICCROM, then called the Rome Centre.
Dr Hiroshi Daifuku, an American citizen, was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on 7 April 1920 to a Japanese father and Hawaiian mother. He studied anthropology and archaeology at the University of Hawaii, later obtaining his PhD in archaeology at Harvard University in 1951. He was fluent in several languages, including French and German, and worked first as an anthropology instructor at the University of Wisconsin, United States. He then applied successfully to a vacancy at UNESCO, and in 1954 was appointed Programme Specialist for the Development of Museums in the Museums and Monuments Division, headed by Jan K. van der Haagen. He also worked with Piero Gazzola, who was also a Programme Specialist at UNESCO at the time. It was together with van der Haagen and Gazzola that Daifuku became one of the key persons in the foundation and early development of ICCROM. Having been appointed the successor of van der Haagen, he represented UNESCO in ICCROM’s Council for many years and was the contact person at UNESCO for ICCROM’s Directors, from Harold J. Plenderleith, to Paul Philippot and Bernard M. Feilden. For his significant contribution to the organization, he was one of the first recipients of the ICCROM Award in 1979.
In his position at UNESCO, Daifuku was involved in practically all of its early cultural activities, including the international campaigns to save the monuments of Nubia, working for example, on the safeguarding of the temples of Abu Simbel and Philae, as well as many other campaigns and missions. In all of these activities, the newly appointed Director of the Rome Centre, Harold James Plenderleith, proved an excellent ally. Indeed, a close and fruitful collaboration developed between UNESCO and ICCROM in those years – very much due to the intelligence and vision of Daifuku. It was in this position that Daifuku also represented UNESCO at the 1964 International Conference in Venice, where ICCROM was one of the principal actors. Daifuku was one of the signatories of the Venice Charter, and a strong promoter of the establishment of ICOMOS the following year in Poland. Indeed, once retired from UNESCO in 1980, Daifuku remained an active member of US ICOMOS.
Hiroshi Daifuku was certainly the right person in the right place at a critical time, and he was not only able to contribute to the building up UNESCO’s cultural policies, but also towards the development of other organizations, such as ICCROM and ICOMOS. One now remembers with nostalgia the smiling and friendly expression of Hiroshi, and his positive and constructive attitude to new proposals.
ICCROM’s Director-General, staff and colleagues send deepest condolences to his wife Alison, his children and his grandchildren. We remember Dr Daifuku with great warmth, as a consummate professional who helped set the foundation upon which ICCROM’s current activities still rely.
25 July, 2012