Christine Keiko Iwahashi passed away July 16 at the age of 58 after a long and hard fought battle with cancer. Chris was born Oct. 15, 1955 in San Francisco and was raised/grew up in the Daly City area before settling in Sacramento in the 1980’s. She was an elite Northern California runner who participated in ultra marathons and 50 milers and more than 160 marathons. Chris was a biochemist at UC Davis where her research included work by the UC Davis MIND Institute into the developmental and neurological issues linked to the Fragile X Gene. Chris is survived by her husband, George Parrott, father, Don Iwahashi, brothers, David & Ken Iwahashi and sister, Pauline Nagata.
Ranko (Janet) Sakurai passed away peacefully on July 17 in Rodeo, Calif. She was born May 11, 1931 in Lompoc, Calif. and was a resident of Berkeley and El Cerrito. She was predeceased by husband Hiroshi, and is survived by sons David (Anne Okahara), Bobby (Nina), Michael (Athena), Dennis and daughter Mariko Linda Sakurai Escalante. She was a grandmother to Tamiko Escalante, Kimiko Escalante Major (Chris), Justin, Ashley, Cailyn and Peyton Sakurai. She is also survived by her sister, Yoko Tsuno.
Leo Taro Goto, the son of Taro and Alice Goto, Leo was born in Spokane in 1935. He was Associate Director of the Sacramento Housing and Redevelopment Agency before retiring in 1988. Leo is survived by Naomi, his wife of 56 years, and two children: Stanford and Courtney.
George Yoshio Matsumoto, surrounded by family members, passed away the night of July 28, following a brief illness. He was dearly loved by those he leaves behind: wife Amy of 71 years, sons Gerald (wife Susan) and Alan (wife Julie) and daughter Janie Low (husband David), and three granddaughters Renee, Mallory, and Monica. George was born on Feb. 13, 1920 in Sebastopol to immigrant parents from Hiroshima, Japan. Despite a transient childhood working many hours in farm fields, he excelled in school, graduating with honors from Analy Union High School in Sebastopol in 1937, where he received varsity letters in baseball, track, and basketball. He evacuated voluntarily to Salt Lake City in response to Executive Order 9066 issued when Pearl Harbor was bombed in 1942. Overcoming employment hardships, he was able to save enough money to purchase an engagement ring and drive to the Amache internment camp in Colorado to propose to his sweetheart, Amy Emiko Yagi, whom he married in March of 1943. After being drafted and following a brief stint training in Military Intelligence at Fort Snelling, Minnesota, he was granted a dependency discharge to care for his parents. Returning to Salt Lake City, he joined the U.S. Postal service, where he worked for 10 years. During this time, George completed courses at a local business college. Through contacts he made while moonlighting as a shipping clerk with the Red Wing Shoe Company, he was offered his own Red Wing store in Stockton, California. He moved there in 1959, and began a 27-year run as a successful shoe merchant, eventually expanding the business to four stores. George was a highly intelligent individual who had an amazing memory. He stayed well informed of national and world news and was an avid reader. Although he didn’t have the opportunity to further pursue post-secondary studies, he encouraged his children to pursue their academic dreams, and he was extremely proud that all of his children were able to complete doctoral degrees. George was a very active contributor to the community of Stockton, where he served as president of both the Stockton Japanese American Citizen League (JACL) and the Hiroshima Doshikai. He was a member of the Stockton Chamber of Commerce, the Better Business Bureau, and the Karl Ross Post of the American Legion. As a retiree, he continued to serve the JACL, created an endowed scholarship through the JACL for graduating high school seniors entering college, volunteered as a member of the San Joaquin Country Sheriffs’ STARS program, and tutored young students in the public school system. Upon suffering a stroke in January of 2010, he and wife Amy relocated to an assisted living home in Sacramento, close to his daughter Janie, son Gerald, and granddaughter Renee. Gregarious and outgoing, George quickly developed a positive rapport with everyone he met. Consequently, he easily made friends and became a leader in any community where he resided. As a man of great honesty and integrity, who was devoted to his family, George will be dearly missed by all who were blessed to be a part of his life.
Rita H. Tsuda, 71, resident of San Bruno, beloved wife and mother, passed away on July 30. She touched many lives with her compassion, integrity, and ever-positive outlook, which will be dearly missed.
Sumiye “Florence” Murakami peacefully passed away in Los Angeles at the age of 94 on Aug. 1. She was born on May 7, 1920 in Newcastle, Calif., and was interned during WWII at Heart Mountain and Tule Lake, and released in 1945. She was a 54-year resident of Fresno and a member of the Fresno and Clovis Japanese American Buddhist communities and a seamstress for Gottschalks for 25 years. Polite, pleasant, kind and loving she will be missed by her family and relatives She was predeceased by Shigemi Murakami, her husband of 70 years. She is survived by sons John (Jane) Murakami, and Henry (Charlene) Murakami; grandsons Jeff and Jason Murakami; and many relatives in Japan and Oregon.
George “Smash” Hirabayashi, 77, of Penryn, passed away on Aug. 3. George is survived by his wife, Elaine; daughters, Joni and Lori; and grandchildren, Kasey, Dani and Jason. He is also survived by sisters, Emi Hamasaki, Teruko Masuda, Misao Hirabayashi, sisters-in-law Helen Yoneyama, Yuki Tsujimoto. Surviving from Elaine’s family are Thomas and Jean Yego and Lucille and Chester Fukushima. George’s brothers; Lee Yoneyama and Akira Tsujimoto, precede him in death. George passed during one of his favorite activities-golf.
Tom Kazuhiko Sasaki peacefully passed away on Aug. 4. He was born on July 5, 1930 to Hikoichi and Tazue (Ito) Sasaki in Yuba City. He went to Central Gaither Elementary School before the family was interned at Amache in Colorado during World War II. After the war, they returned to Yuba City. He went to Yuba City High School where he participated in basketball, ran the low hurdles and the 440 Relay for track. He enrolled at Yuba Junior College before joining the Army. He was stationed in Japan where he met Hiroko, his future wife. They were married in Osaka, Japan. The next 20 years, they lived in Fort Lewis, Wash., Tokyo, Japan, and Fort Ord, Calif. He also did a tour of Korea and two tours of Vietnam. After retiring at Fort Ord, he worked at the Naval Post Graduate School for 25 years. Dad was skilled with the knife. With one pocket knife, sand paper and pieces of wood, he made airplanes, ball in a cage chains, carved decorations on a bookcase and made peach pit boats. He was the BBQer at the Annual Sasaki Family/Friends Picnic for the past 30 years. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Hiroko and his children, Ayako, Linda and Edwin. He is also survived by his brother, Kei Sasaki. He was predeceased by his parents and siblings, James Ito, Sue Tokuno and Ann Sasaki. Memorial services will be held at Monterey Peninsula Buddhist Temple on Saturday, Aug. 30, at 11 a.m.
Takane “Connie” Kawata, born in Redondo Beach in 1919, passed away on Aug. 5. She worked as a bookkeeper, seamstress and as the office manager for Drs. Clifford and Grant Nakajima. She loved to write cards and letters to her friends and family and enjoyed cooking for them as well. Connie was preceded in death by her husband, Jim Kawata and her son, Carl Kawata. She is survived by her daughters, Stephanie (Jeff) Yamamoto and Evelynn (Jim Nadeau) Kawata and her grandchildren, Marc, Tracy and Kari Yamamoto and Derek Nadeau.
Emiko Amy Tachino passed away on Aug. 5 in Clovis. She was born on March 23, 1922 in Kingsburg to Takayuki and Shima Misaki. Emiko was a registered surgical nurse at the UCLA Hospital for 35 years. She is survived by her husband, Kazuo Tachino; sisters Kazuko Misaki, and Masako Hirano; step-brother, Shig Shimada; sister-in-law; numerous nieces and nephews; and many other loving family members and friends.
Ikuko Sato passed away on Aug. 9. She will be remembered by her family and friends, and joins her parents Minoru and Misao Hirashima, her sister Ayako Hirashima and her brother Kouichi Hirashima of Tokyo, Japan. Ikuko is survived by her loving husband Art Sato of 57 years. She is also survived by her brother Nobuo (Toshiko) Hirashima, her sister-in-law Yoshiko Hirashima, her brother-in-law Stan (Edith) Sato, sister-in-law Tomiye Sato and several nieces and nephews. Ikuko was a very giving person whom everyone loved to be around. She immigrated to Sacramento in 1958 after her marriage to Art who was stationed in the USAF in Japan. She was an avid reader who enjoyed traveling extensively in Japan and parts of the US. Ikuko also was gifted in knitting, crocheting and cross stitch.
Misako Janet Jones, 90, of Santa Clara, passed away in her home on Aug. 10. She was born Dec. 24, 1923 in San Jose to Japanese- American Issei parents, Misako was the third of ten children. During WWII, Misako and her family were interned at the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp in Wyoming. Misako graduated from Heart Mountain HS and went on to the University of Colorado in Boulder where she earned her nursing degree. After the war, she returned to California and married Edgar Jones, a young civil engineer. Misako and Edgar lived in San Francisco, where their children were born and later moved back to Santa Clara County. Over the years, Misako witnessed the transformation of the Santa Clara Valley. She worked at O’Connor Hospital as a Medical Records Librarian and helped to set up the library at the new Mission Community College in Santa Clara. Misako served as devoted caretaker for her husband Edgar in the later years of their 57-year marriage. She loved art and enjoyed watercolor painting. She was also a devoted gardener and cultivated Japanese Maple trees and roses. Misako is survived by daughter, Susan Jones (Hillman), son-in-law, Steve Hillman, and by her son, Michael Jones. Misako is survived by her brother Bob Tsuruda (and wife Lena) of Tucson, Arizona and sisters Alice Yonemoto of Half Moon Bay, Emily Sunahara of Long Beach, and Mae Sano of Carlsbad. Misako was the proud grandmother of Michelle (Langbehn) and great-grandmother of Lula Mae Langbehn. She also enjoyed following the lives of her many nieces and nephews and their children.
June N. Asai was born June 9, 1925 in San Jose to Kumekichi and Chitose Taniguchi. She passed away peacefully at her home in Turlock on Aug. 10 at the age of 89 with her family by her side. June lived most of her life in Cortez, a farming community near Turlock California. She married her childhood sweetheart and neighbor down the street Yoshio Asai in 1947 and was married for 49 years until his death in 1997. Together they successfully farmed various crops from carrots and strawberries to peaches and almonds. Both mom and dad worked very hard so that their children could enjoy a better life since they grew up during the Depression and also spent time during WWII at the Amache Relocation Center in Colorado. She was a member of Cortez Buddhist Church, Cortez Shinwakai, Cortez Growers Association, Cortez J.A.C.L, and Blue Diamond Growers. She was a homemaker and enjoyed gardening and helping on the farm. June was preceded in death by her husband Yoshio Asai, sister Peggy Yoshimoto and brother Howard Taniguchi and her first child at birth Larry. She is survived by her sister Mae Kajioka (Harry), brothers Ned Taniguchi (Lois), William Taniguchi and sister Betty Kitazumi (Cal). June is survived by her children Marlene Miyasaki (Rick) of Fowler, Wesley Asai (Gini) of Turlock and Russell Asai of Turlock. She had four grandchildren Stacy Piche (PJ and great-granddaughter Alexis), Jodi Alatorre (Steven), Ryan Asai and Carrie Asai and step grandchildren Tosh Kajioka and Mari Gong.
Taeko Lee, a native of Japan and longtime Sacramento resident, passed away at the age of 85 on Aug. 11. She was preceded in death by her husband Hon and her son Michael.
Mitsu (Sakai) Eya, resident of San Jose, passed away on Aug. 14. Even in the darkest night, she’ll never forget how the fires illuminated the sky; making it possible to see the pilot’s face as clear as day. She watched as he bombed streets she played in, and fired upon people running for cover. For two years, Mitsu spent most of her time in an underground shelter, as World War II took place above. It was the most frightful time in her life. A life that couldn’t have been further from what she was used to. Mitsu and her eight brothers and sisters were raised in Tokyo, Japan by a wealthy and well-respected family. Her parents, Yoshi and Kanichi Sakai, sent young Mitsu to Yamawaki Gakuen, one of the most prestigious girls schools in Tokyo. Her father had a very successful business in manufacturing various types of gears for civilian and military use, a business that Mitsu soon followed. After the war, Japan was in devastation. Mitsu being a young remarkable woman was driven to find work as a contract clerk for Mitsubishi Heavy Industries in Shimomaruko. During an era when women were shunned and weren’t respected in the workforce, Mitsu worked hard on the job and at home. She would take her father’s old suits and alter them, cut it to her size, and restyle them into skirts and work jackets. It was in one of these reconstructed men’s suits that she met her husband Keiso Eya who was with the U.S. Army. At 92, Keiso still vividly remembers how pretty Mitsu was, the rouge on her cheeks, her hair perfectly pulled back, with her intricately hand sewn suit. Mitsu married Keiso in 1953 in Tokyo where they raised their son Bryan and daughter Leslie. Nothing made Mitsu more proud than her family. Both her children graduated from UC Davis. Bryan went on to earn his Master’s Degree in Entomology followed by a PhD in Chemistry, and Leslie earned her MBA. In 1975, Mitsu and her husband moved to the Bay Area to be closer to her growing family. Her daughter Leslie married David, and welcomed Mitsu’s first grandchildren Monica and Shawna. A few years later, her son Bryan welcomed her granddaughter Rachel. Mitsu loved her granddaughters with all her heart and played a huge role in raising them. Her powerful role is the reason why her granddaughter Monica and her husband Richard named their first daughter Charlotte Mitsu after her. Mitsu passed away in Los Gatos with her husband at her side.
Fumio Alfred Saito of Los Altos, passed away peacefully on Aug. 14, with his son at his side. Born on Aug. 9, 1929 in San Francisco to Fumi and Yoshio Saito, Alfred recently celebrated his 85th birthday. As a teenager, he was interned with his family and other Japanese Americans at Heart Mountain, Wyoming (1942-45). Following World War II, he returned to San Francisco and graduated from Lowell High School in 1947. Alfred’s science teacher encouraged him to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he earned a degree in Aerospace Engineering in 1952. He earned additional degrees including a BS in Business from Johns Hopkins University in 1957 and a Masters in International Business from Columbia University in 1960. With a strong interest in aviation, he served in the U.S. Air Force at Wright Air Development Center, Ohio from 1952-54 and ultimately achieved the rank of captain. Alfred later worked for Martin Co. and then Dow Chemical where he met his wife, Gabriela Saito. Alfred had a lifelong love of classical music, a passion for football, and extensive knowledge of military history. He enjoyed flying as a young man and later skiing which he continued into his 70s. He is preceded in death by his brothers, Yoshiro and Hiroshi, and sister, Setsuko Higuchi, and survived by his sister, Kathleen Yuille of Milwaukee, WI. His family includes a son, Christopher, his wife Tin Tin Tun, and grandsons, Zachary and Maxwell, of Los Altos; daughter, Jacqueline, her husband Paul Matz, and twin grandsons, Benjamin and Jonathan, of Clayton, MO.
Former Fowler, California Mayor Tom Tokiharu Nagata passed away on Aug. 15, at the age of 88. During World War II Nagata was interned at Gila River Concentration Camp. Upon graduation from Rivers High School in 1944, he moved to Chicago and lived with a kind Jewish family. At the age of 18, he enlisted in the 44nd Regimental Combat Team, F Company. In 2011, he went to Washington DC to receive the Congressional Gold Medal presented to the WWII Nisei veterans.
Nagata began and spent his career at CalTrans in 1952. After the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1988, he came out of retirement and worked at FEMA for several years, assisting with post-disaster rebuilding throughout the country and the Pacific Ocean region assisting with Hurricane Katrina and other disasters in Hawaii, Palau and Guam.
Nagata founded the Buddhist Church of Fowler’s Boy Scout Troop 442 and served as its first scoutmaster. He also served as an assistant scoutmaster for the BCA Troop 1331 attending the 1971 World Boy Scout Jamboree held near Mt. Fuji, Japan and was honored with the BSA Sequoia Council’s highest service At the Buddhist Church of Fowler, he spearheaded the volunteer effort to construct the church’s youth Building, served as a Jr. YBA advisor and coach for the church’s Boy’s and Girl’s basketball teams. Tom served as president of the Buddhist Church of Fowler, the Fowler JACL, the Fowler Japanese Language School, and served on the CCDC and national boards of the Buddhist Churches of America. He organized and headed the Fowler Mochi tsuki every December for over 30 years, organized Fowler’s “Tsukemono Matsuri,” and he most recently headed the Fowler church Memorial Wall Project.
Nagata devoted many years and countless hours to the Fowler community and served on the Planning Commission, Municipal Hospital Board and on the Fresno County Grand Jury. In 1973, Tom was recognized as Fowler’s Citizen of the Year by the Fowler Chamber of Commerce. He was elected to the Fowler City Council in 1976 and in 1978 he was nominated for the position of Mayor by then retiring Mayor John Panzak, who, up until that time, was the longest serving mayor in California. The year Nagata was elected Mayor he joined seven other Nisei mayors throughout the state of California. He would later be re-elected to the City Council in 2004 but resigned due to health issues in 2007.
Tom is survived by his wife of 60 years, Jane, sons Brian and Kevin and daughter Colleen (Jay Alvarez). Grandchildren: Brenna, Alaina and Brayden, sister Helen Tani of Fresno and brother Bonch of Monterey Park, many relatives and extended family and friends in both America and Japan.
Katherine Kazuye Sato passed away peacefully in her sleep on Aug. 15, at the age of 99. She was preceded in death by parents, Nobujiro and Motoyo Nakamura, husband Tom Sato, daughter Nancy Ito, and siblings Helen Iwasaki, Joe Nakamura and Sumiye Nakamura (in infancy). She is survived by sister Molly Kimura, daughter Toshiye Kawamura, grandchildren Matthew Kawamura, Julie Kawamura, Theodore Ito and Jennifer Ito (Rafael Garrett). She is also survived by son-in-law Jackson Ito (Cathleen Godzik), and great-grandsons Diogo and Yuji Ito Garrett. Katherine was born on April 15, 1915 in Yuba City and grew up in Marysville. During the war, she was interned in Tule Lake and then she moved to Chicago. She returned to Sacramento in the late 50’s and began working for the State of CA and teaching Sunday School at the Buddhist Church. She enjoyed traveling and spending time with family and friends.
Mikio “Mike” Katayama, 91, of Orosi , Calif., passed away on Aug. 15. He was born in Orosi on April 24, 1923, to Tomoji and Takeno Katayama. He graduated from Orosi High School and was a farmer all his life. He married Grace Ishizu on Aug. 29, 1949. He is survived by his wife Grace; and four children, Judy and husband Bill Yoshimoto, Susie and husband Dennis Veeh, Russell and wife Mary Katayama and Todd and wife Kim Katayama; one brother, Sho Katayama and Rosie, the wife of late brother Yo Katayama. Mike also has 11 grandchildren; and six great-grandchildren.
Fumie Honda, 92, known to everyone as Miyo, the longtime Fowler resident passed away on Aug. 16, surrounded by her family and friends at the Vintage Gardens Assisted Living Center in Fresno. Miyo will be fondly remember for her generous and caring nature devoting many years as a Girl Scout Leader, Jr., YBA advisor, and Dharma School teacher for over 50 years. She enjoyed Ballroom dancing, and loved organizing and leading extended trips throughout the world with her friends. Miyo is survived by her husband Harry; her three children, Craig and his wife Tayoko, Laureen and her husband David, and Lynn and her husband Mitchell. A third daughter, Becky, passed away in 1979. She is also survived by her eight grandchildren, Ryan and fiancee April, Jared and his wife Alina, Greg, Derek and his wife Yim, Stacey, Travis and fiancee Leslie, Blake and Rex; two brothers, George and his wife Miya, and Jack; one sister Jane; and many extended family members.
George Yasui entered into eternal peace on Aug. 16, at the age of 92. George was predeceased by Marie, his wife of 54 years; brothers Hideo and Tatsumi; and sisters Motoko “Mona” Yasui Kumamoto and Miney Yasui Momoi. He is lovingly remembered by his children David, May, Arthur and Henry; and his grandchildren Kenneth and Rosalyn. George was born in Olympia, WA in 1922 and attended the Universities of Washington and Denver, earning a PhD in Chemical Engineering. While the rest of their family were interned at Tule Lake during WWII, he and his brothers served in the US Army; George and Tatsumi were in the MIS. Hideo was in the 442nd Regiment and awarded a Purple Heart posthumously. George was stationed in Japan during the U.S. Occupation. George married Marie Masaye Amino in Chicago in 1950; they later moved to Palo Alto where he worked for Lockheed and they raised four children. In 1991, he and Marie retired to Folsom.
On Aug. 17, Mieko Mano, known to her friends and family as Mickey, passed away suddenly at the age of 85. Mickey was born Sept. 5, 1928 in Fresno and moved to the Watsonville area in 1952 when she married the love of her life, her beloved husband, Joseph Mano. A breast cancer survivor, Mickey loved playing Bingo with her children and was an avid Giants fan. She rarely missed any Giants game and always watched any show about her favorite team. She also followed her second favorite sport, tennis. Mickey spent her earlier years as a homemaker, happy to be a stay at home mom raising her six children in Freedom. She and her husband loved to bowl together in league at the old Cabrillo Lanes. After her husband Joe’s death in 1973, Mickey worked as a cashier at the Quik Stop Market in Freedom and later the Lakeside Market in Watsonville. In her later years, Mickey lived in the country with her daughter Shari and her husband, Krag Pope. She enjoyed her retirement and was cared for with love and devotion. One of her favorite past times was watching the wild deer and their fawns frolicking around their home. Dearly loved, Mickey will be deeply missed by her daughters Donna Barnett of Aromas, Sandra Imperio of Watsonville, Kathleen Clarke of South Lake Tahoe and Shari Mano of Prunedale and her son, Gary Mano of Las Vegas. She leaves behind three brothers, Frank and Tom Isogawa of Selma and Hiro Isogawa of Fresno. She is also survived by four grandchildren and four great-grandchildren as well as many dear friends and family throughout California.
Amy Amiko Watanabe, 86, of Lodi, passed away on Aug. 18. Amy was born on Nov. 21, 1927 in Rumsey, Calif. She is survived by her daughter, Sheri Watanabe, two very special “granddaughters”, Kelly and Lisa Kanemori, and many nieces and nephews. Amy was preceded in death by her husband, Kay Watanabe, brother, Tom Tsutsumi, and sisters, Ethel Tamura, Mary Tsutsumi and Carol Yoshioka. Amy enjoyed family time. She loved to cook and bake pies. Apple was her specialty. She enjoyed the slot machines and was usually pretty lucky. Amy valued her time and conversations with her friends. In the last year or so, she found she enjoyed doing word searches.
Tamiko Matsui, lifelong resident of Watsonville, passed away peacefully on Aug. 18, at Montecito Manor in Watsonville. She leaves her dear husband, Isao “Sully” Matsui, after nearly 64 years of marriage. She also leaves her sons Doug (Carolyn) and their children Ross and Courtney and Paul (Lori) and their children Scott and Ryan. She was predeceased by her parents Saikichi and Hisa Yamamoto. Tami had ten siblings; Mina (Minoru) Tanaka, Yoshiko (Ben) Hashimoto, Nobuko (Michio) Abe, Fumiko (Tets) Kobayashi, Bob (Toshiko “Tee”) Yamamoto, Shuichi (Agnes) Yamamoto, Tadashi Yamamoto, Kikue (Tom) Mine, Richard (Ruth) Yamamoto, and Kiyo (Tak) Arao. She was predeceased by all except her loving sister Kiyo and her sisters-in-law Tee, Agnes, and Ruth. Tami was born in Watsonville on March 20, 1928, relocated to Poston, Arizona during the war, moved to Denver, Colorado for a couple of years, then came back to Watsonville, graduated from Watsonville High School, got married, and raised her family. Tami had a great sense of humor and loved life, enjoying it with her many family members and friends. She loved Sully, knitting slippers, going to casinos, water aerobics, her family and friends, and especially her grandchildren.