Lilyan Kiyomoto

Lilyan Kazuko Nagata was born on September 15, 1927 in Fresno, California, the fifth child born to Saichi and Tamaji Nagata, farmers in rural Dinuba, California. She had attended the Grandview-Windsor Elementary School, learned to sew as a member of 4-H, took piano lessons, and played in the school harmonica band. After completing her freshman year at Dinuba Joint Union High School, her life was interrupted with the events of World War II and the signing of Executive Order 9066 with the forced evacuation of all persons of Japanese ancestry from the Pacific states. 
     On August 3, 1942, Lilyan with her parents and siblings, left Dinuba and arrived at Parker, Arizona the following day where the temperatures soared over 120 degrees. Her family was assigned to the Poston, Arizona concentration camp 3, block 305, barrack 11, apartment C for the duration of the war. She attended the Poston 3 High School, made many lifelong friends, and played volleyball, softball, and basketball. She was a “left-handed” pitcher on the block 305 girls championship softball team, and GAA championship volleyball team. She remained at Poston, Arizona until the state of California was declared open to the resettlement of Japanese Americans despite several reports of anti-Japanese incidents in Fresno and Tulare Counties. On January 29, 1945, Lilyan departed from Poston, Arizona with her parents and younger siblings.
     Lilyan returned to Dinuba Joint Union High School one month before her solemn graduation ceremony in 1945. She attended the Dinuba Japanese Methodist Church and the summer Lake Sequoia Retreat during the early post-war years with her siblings. She attended the Hazmore Sewing School in San Francisco for 9 months, and returned to pack tomatoes and grapes in the Sultana/Dinuba area with her girlfriends. Her friend introduced her to an older brother, George Kiyomoto, a truck driver who lived in Reedley and they attended the Lake Sequoia Retreat and dated. On January 20, 1951, Lilyan and George Kiyomoto were married at the Dinuba Japanese Methodist Church.
     They raised a family of four children in Reedley, California on the hilltop farm located on American Ave. near the “R” mountain (Mt. Campbell). Lilyan was a hard-worker, taught her children strong work ethics, as they chopped cotton, chopped & sprayed weeds, thinned tree fruit buds, removed tree suckers, tied grapevines, picked and packed tree fruit and grapes, and one year, raised and harvested squash for market. In her spare time, she worked on various sewing and knitting projects and made all of her daughter’s and her own clothes. She enrolled in several Reedley Adult School tailoring classes taught by Chiaki Taguchi, and learned to customize her patterns, sew lingerie and t-shirt fabrics.  She was active in a weekly knitting circle of friends. She supported her children’s activities, transported them to baseball practices and games, helped with the Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, and many 4-H events. She was a “floor lady” for the Richland Sales Company fruit packing house in Dinuba for a few years. Later, she worked on the family farm and drove the truck hauling a trailer of picked fruit bins to the packinghouse. She attended all of the Reedley High School and Reedley Junior College sport events with her family, traveling out-of-town for the away games and play-off games. She enjoyed gardening and toiled in her vegetable garden, flower gardens, and maintained a collection of indoor plants. She was a long-time supporter of the Reedley Tiger Bench Club, and member of the Reedley United Methodist Fellowship Church. After the family farm was sold in 2005, she transferred her membership to the United Japanese Christian Church of Clovis, California and moved to Fresno. She was a caregiver for her husband who had developed Alzheimers’ disease, with assistance of Yolanda Rios and Lupe Singh. She began to show signs of dementia and required care at home from Yolanda Rios after her husband was placed in a memory care facility.
     Lilyan Kiyomoto was released from her physical ailments on June 18, 2017 under the care of Sojourn Hospice Care at the Bella Vista Memory Care Community in Fresno, California. She is predeceased by her parents, George and Tamaji Nagata; brothers, Stan Nagata, Gordon Nagata; and sisters, Mallie Hanada, and Lydia Shiba.  She is survived by her husband, George Kiyomoto of Fresno; sons: Bob Kiyomoto of Fresno, Mike Kiyomoto (Debbie Montalban) of Emeryville, and Jeff (Megumi) Kiyomoto of Irvine; and daughter: Dianne Kiyomoto (Dale Kuey) of Fresno; grandchildren: Kevin Kiyomoto of Fresno, Danelle (Jason) Okabayashi of Los Angeles, Doug Kuey of Fresno, and Derek Kuey of Irvine; brother, Ed Nagata of Kingsburg; sister, Amy Akaishi of New York; cousins, Harry Nagata, Mary Tanaka, and Sally Nagata of Fresno, Ruth Kurihara of Orosi, Dorothy Kimura of Fresno, and Ernest Nagata; brother-in-law, Sho Katayama of Boston; sister-in-laws, Marty (Tom) Suyama of Milwaukee; and June Kitagawa of San Francisco; and many dear nephews and nieces. 

Burial services will be held on Saturday July 1, 2017 at 10:00 am with Rev. Akiko Miyake-Stoner officiating at the Reedley Cemetery. 

A Celebration of Life Service will be held on Saturday, July 22, 2017 at 10:00 am at the United Japanese Christian Church, 136 N. Villa Ave, Clovis, CA  93612. Family requests no cut flowers. 


Misao (Yamano) Shiotsuka ( 1919-2016)

     Misao Yamano (Poston 215-2-A) was born on July 14, 1919, in San Jose, California. She was the eldest of four children of Shige and Teiichi Yamano. She attended schools in Gilroy, California and graduated from high school in 1937. She went to Japan and studied sewing, music, and traditional Japanese cultural arts. Following the signing of Executive Order 9066, she was evacuated with her parents and siblings to the Salinas Assembly Center. On July 5, 1942, they were transferred to the Poston, Arizona concentration camp and lived at camp 2 block 215.
Misao Shiotsuka
     In March of 1943 at Poston, Arizona, Misao married Pvt. Sam Shiotsuka, who was training with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team in Hattisburg, Mississippi. He had sent an engagement ring which was sized with a piece of string that he had sent earlier to camp. Tec/ 4 Sam Shiotsuka served with the famed 442 Regimental Combat Team 2nd Battalion E Company in the European Theatre. The following year, baby Barbara was born at the Poston General Hospital. On February 22, 1945, she departed with her daughter and headed for Fruita, Colorado. After the war, they settled in the Gilroy-Hollister area. Misao became a seamstress and homemaker, and raised three children.
     Misao Yamano Shiotsuka passed away June 17, 2016 at the age of 96.She is predeceased by her husband Sam Shiotsuka in 2000; and survived by daughters Barbara Sakakihara (Phil), Wanda Shiotsuka (Bob Center) and son, Edwin Shiotsuka (Arline); grandsons, and  four great grandchildren.


Top of FoGeorge Teitaro Aihara (1918 - 2016)

George T. Aihara
    George Teitaro Aihara (Poston 213-6-C) was born on November 1, 1918, in Sunnyvale, California, as the first son of Teikichi and Torano Aihara, immigrants of Gunma-ken, Japan. George was a 1938 graduate of Fremont High School in Sunnyvale, and 1948 from San Jose State College. As a teenager, he was fascinated with flying and in the 1930s he assisted with the tethering of the giant airship, the USS. Macom at Moffett Field. While attending San Jose State College, he joined the newly formed college Flying Club and became one of the first Japanese Americans to hold a commercial flying license.  In 1940, he was the first American of Japanese ancestry to qualify and hold a flight instructor rating to become an active flight instructor.
    Following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, George enlisted in the Army Air Corps in January 1942. After the signing of Executive Order 9066, he was grounded from flying and honorably discharged. He was forcibly evacuated to the Salinas Assembly Center with his widowed father and sisters, Helen, and Chitose. On July 5, 1942, they were  transferred to the Poston, Arizona concentration camp 2.
George Aihara Vice-Principal
     At the camp, George T. Aihara was appointed vice-principal of the Poston 2 high school for the first semester in 1943 and in 1944, he was the school registrar. On March 7, 1944, he left the camp with an invitation in Buffalo, New York. On February 15, 1945, he enlisted at Fort , New Jersey  and assigned to the Counter Intelligence Corp (CIC) as a special agent.
     From 1945 to 1947 M/Sgt. George T. Aihara served in Occupied Japan under General MacArthur in the Counter Intelligence Corp. He was discharged in November  1947 at Fort Lawton, Washington.
     After the war, George returned to the Bay Area and completed college at San Jose State. From the late 1940s through the late 1960s he worked in aviation as an engineer, first with Hiller Helicopters in Palo Alto; then with Filper Helicopters in San Ramon, California. In the late 1960’s, he worked for Lockheed on the development of the AH-56 Cheyenne helicopter (predecessor to the AH-64 Apache). In 1969, George took a job at Sylvania Electronics in Santa Cruz and moved the family to Santa Cruz Gardens in Soquel, California where he lived for the next 47 years. In 1974, George began working at the Physical Plant at the University of California at Santa Cruz, (UCSC), and eventually became the Grounds Maintenance Supervisor, Physical Plant at the University-- a position he held until his retirement in 1987.
George T. Aihara
     George was active with the Capitola Lion's Club and youth exchange program, as well as the U.C.S.C. Retirees Associ-
ation (Silver Slugs). He had a great passion for woodworking, and made cupboards, dressers, desks, and cabinets to furnish his home.
     George T. Aihara, died on May 31, 2016 at his home in Santa Cruz, California at the age of 97 years. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Yoko; sons, Dean and Byron; and many nieces and nephews.


Sumi (Kitahata) Ujimori (1924 - 2016)

Sumi Ujimori
     Sumi Kitahata (Poston 318-11-C) was born in September 1924 in Reedley, California to Japanese immigrants, Kintaro and Kachiko (Obara) Kitahata. She was raised in Reedley, California. After the signing of Executive Order 9066, she was forcibly evacuated with her parents and siblings to the Poston, Arizona concentration camp 3.  They arrived on August 6, 1942. On November 16, 1943, she found a job and departed for Shaker Heights Ohio, leaving her family behind at Poston. In June and September 1945, her parents and siblings left Poston and departed for Cleveland, Ohio.
      She married Tamio Ujimori in 1952 in Los Angeles, California and was employed as an electrical designer for 30 years in Los Angeles County.
     Sumi Ujimori, 91, died following complications after surgery on June 18, 2016 at the San Antonio Regional Hospital in Upland, California. She was predeceased by her brothers Henry and Ben Kitahata; and sisters Sunny Otani and Taye Umade.
  She is survived by her friend and former spouse, Michael Hadley; her sisters, Tomi Tanaka and Aiko (Hide) Matsuno; children, Miyoko Pruitt, Helyne (Kent) Noyes, and George Ujimori; granddaughter, Sheri Yamasaki (Steven Kim); great-grandson, Tyler Yamasaki Kim; and many nieces and nephews.

SUGI, TEI (1917-2016)

 Tei Sugi (1917-2016)

     Tei Sugi (Trokey) (Poston 328-10-B) was born on October 4, 1917 in Santa Clara, California and the youngest of seven children to Sadajiro and Haru Sugi. Her father had been a school principal in Japan and operated a grocery store in Los Angeles. Tei attended both elementary and high school in the Lincoln Heights in East Los Angeles. She received an A.A. degree from the Los Angeles Junior College in 1937. Due to California miscege-nation laws, she was married in the state of Washington. The married couple had one son, Jim Trokey, and soon became divorced.
     During WWII, Tei Trokey a single parent with her 2-year old son Jim, and her mother Haru Sugi, were forced to leave their grocery store business and evacuate to the Heart Mountain,
Tei Sugi
Wyoming concentration camp. Her father was separately evacuated to the Santa Anita Assembly Center. On October 26, 1942, he arrived at the Poston, Arizona concentration camp.
On November 16, 1942, Tei, James and Haru Sugi transferred to the Poston, Arizona camp to join him. Tei Trokey was 25 year old and held several important positions working with the youth at Poston camp 3. She worked for the school as a liaison to resolve conflict between students and/or staff, and taught high school girls’ physical education classes. She was a substitute teacher for Junior High English and Math classes, and a Probation Officer for group of rebellious boys. She organized and sponsored clubs for young girls and elected block 328 council representative. She was  selected to represent Poston 3 at both the National Y-Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas, and the Methodist Youth Fellowship Camp in the San Bernardino mountains. She was a “Singspiration” song leader held at the Christian Church, and played 2nd base on the All-Camp Girls’ Softball Championship team which traveled to Phoenix, Arizona.
    On July 7, 1945, Tei with her son James, and her parents, left Poston, Arizona and returned to Los Angeles. Their home which had been registered to a Caucasian relative  prevent from losing it during the war was not immediately vacated when they returned. 
      Tei was active with her son’s Sunday School education, Boy Scouts, and started the sober grad night at his high school. She worked for the Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Department and 27 years with the Los Angeles Unified School District, before retiring in 1983. She playing golf and past president of the Southern California Nisei Women’s Golf Association. She took yearly trips to the L.A. Dodgers spring training games in Arizona, and traveled to various VFW and 442nd RCT veteran activities with her long-time friend, Sadao Kodama.
     Tei Sugi, 98, and former resident of Alhambra, and Keiro and Laguna Niguel, California died on April 9, 2016. She is survived by son, Jim (Violet) Sugi; grandchildren, Denise (Chris) Beaufort and Wendy Herbert; great-grandchildren, Evan and Taryn Beaufort, Kayla and Casey Herbert; and many nieces, nephews and other relatives.