Ruth Toshiko Nagashima Braunstein
October 9, 1939 – July 14, 2020
Ruth Nagashima Braunstein (80) passed away in Phoenix, Ariz, while convalescing from heart surgery. She will be deeply missed.
She was born in Los Angeles to Mary (née Aiso) and Elbert Nagashima, who came to the U.S. as a child from Sano, Japan.
Ruth, her parents and maternal grandparents were interned at the Manzanar War Relocation Center from the spring of 1942. Ruth later said that this experience helped to shape her character and contributed to her resilience. Photos of Ruth and her family at Manzanar were featured in Charles Ferguson’s book, Citizen USA.
In 1944, Ruth and her parents moved to New York City. Ruth went on to attend Elisabeth Irwin High School and Pratt Institute, where she met her future husband, Donn Matus.
Ruth and Donn had two children, Chris Matus (Patty) and Dawn Matus (Ken Enochs), and later divorced. In 1984, Ruth wed Charles Braunstein. They moved from New York to Scottsdale, and remained together until Charles’ death in 2004.
In addition to her children, Ruth leaves behind grandchildren Ava and Aidan, and numerous cousins and friends.
Ruth was an amazing mom, raising Chris and Dawn as a single parent while working full time. After they grew up, she rediscovered her artistic abilities as a textile designer. In her later years, she devoted her energies to volunteering for several organizations, and to doting on her grandkids and her dogs. She enjoyed the fellowship she found at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix.
Along with her creative talents, Ruth will be remembered for her love of reading, travel, classical music, and her deep affection for her pups. She was one of a kind, small in stature but strong of will, serious but tenderhearted.
A memorial service will be planned at a later date. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to an animal welfare group or your favorite charity.