SACRAMENTO — Claire Mix, a filmmaker and author who documented her mother’s experiences at the Gila River internment camp, passed away on June 12. She was 52.
Mix had suffered from Parkinson’s disease for the last years of her life, but passed away from colon cancer.
In the 2010 film “Gila River and Mama: The Ruth Mix Story,” she told the story of her grandmother and mother, Frida and Ruth Mix. She also wrote the young adult novel “The Girl with Hair Like the Sun,” based on her mother’s camp experiences.
Her mother, diagnosed with terminal breast cancer in 2007, encouraged Claire, then a teacher in Sacramento, to make the documentary about her experiences and the many horrible events she witnessed during the three years in the camp.
Mix produced, wrote and directed the film, with financial support from the Gila River Reunion Committee and a grant from the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program. The film was shown at the Japanese American National Museum in 2011 and received best documentary honors from the San Francisco Peninsula Press Club in 2012.
“She will be missed by all who were given the privilege of associating such a wonderful person, but her work will be remembered for years to come,” said Hy Shishino, a member of the Gila River Reunion Committee.
In the fall of 1942, Frida Mix, a teacher in Seattle, heard about the order to remove all of people of Japanese ancestry from the Pacific Coast. She moved to Mesa, Ariz. with her 15-year-old daughter and volunteered to teach at the Gila River concentration camp. Frida told the camp authorities that her daughter Ruth was 18 years old so that she could volunteer to work at the camp hospital.
Frida was incensed by this horrific act of a nation, and gave up a teaching position in Washington to be a part of the many who helped to make a more bearable life at Gila River.
“We must make right a terrible wrong,” Frida told Ruth as they rode the military bus into the prison camp for Ruth’s first day at the hospital. Ruth was the only white nurse’s aide amongst a staff composed entirely of Japanese American internees.
Mix was also a popular musician and music teacher in the Sacramento area. She formed a children’s choir, Mixer Kids, that performed at the 2003 inauguration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Mix is survived by a twin sister, Frida, and brother, John. Memorial services are pending.
On the Web: www.clairemix.com