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May 7, 1921 to December 26, 2012
Shizuko Kimura Murakawa, devoted mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, passed away peacefully on Wednesday, December 26, 2012. Born on May 7, 1921, she was 91 when she died.
Shizuko Murakawa was born in the United States and educated in Japan. She was the third child in a family of seven children. Living in Iwakuni, Japan, she was both artistic and talented. Eventually, she returned to California during the late 1930’s and was married to Kiyoshi. Over the next several years, she helped develop the family flower farming business.
This dream was interrupted by World War II when the family was relocated to several internment camps. Life was difficult in the internment camp, since by this time, Shizuko was raising two small children. After internment the family returned to California and restarted the flower farming business.
Over the next 30 years, Shizuko and Kiyoshi cultivated land in several locations in Torrance, California, and finally settled in Cypress, California. During this time, their flowers — daisies, chrysanthemums, asters, stock, and marigolds among others — gained renown among flower dealers from coast to coast. Shizuko spent her days in the flower fields, while tending to the household and raising five children. Her green thumb extended to growing fruits and vegetables, which she cheerfully gave to friends and family.
With Kiyoshi, Shizuko supported many charities and organizations including the Yamaguchi Kenjin-kai, her local Japanese Community Center and its Japanese school, UCLA and Harvard University, where her children attained degrees.
Most importantly to Shizuko, she raised her five children to be productive, self-sufficient individuals with strong character and deep integrity. Mrs. Murakawa placed great value on education, and each of her children went on to college and graduate school, establishing themselves in the prestigious professions of engineering, education, dentistry and medicine. Her grandchildren and great grandchildren are continuing in the high standards and educational focus established by their grandparents.
Shizuko had many hobbies including sewing, quilting, and embroidery (Bunka Shishu). She enjoyed making many projects — sewing clothes, making stuffed animals and dolls, and creating beautiful quilts. She spent many hours making the embroidery pictures and gave them to family and friends. Her other personal interests included fishing, camping, traveling, and, of course, her family. She traveled with Kiyoshi to Japan, China, Europe, South America, and all over the United States. .
In 1999, Shizuko and Kiyoshi were honored as Parents of the Year during the Southern California Nisei Week celebration. She was recognized for her accomplishments by President Ronald Reagan and by former UCLA Chancellor Charles Young.
Shizuko is predeceased by her husband, Kiyoshi Murakawa and her children, Reiko Nancy Shelley, and Frank Murakawa. Mrs. Murakawa is survived by her three children: John, Mary Murakawa Lew, and George; eleven grandchildren: Dawnalyn Murakawa Leopard, Mitchell, Justin, William Shelley, Suzanne Shelley, Kris Murakawa Lin, Lauren, Zachary Lew, Kirsten Lew, Ryan, and Megan; and four great-grandchildren: Jennalee Leopard, Jeremy Leopard, Dominic Shelley, and Vincent Shelley.
Her funeral was held on December 29 at the Los Angeles Hompa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple attended by close family members and friends. A private family burial will be held at Rose Hills Memorial Park on Saturday, January 19, at 3 p.m..