After a brief illness, Haruyo Suenaka passed away peacefully on January 4, 2021, just 10 days shy of her 99th birthday. She was born in Santa Fe Springs, Calif. to Jisakichi and Tsuma Ichimura. She was the eldest of three children. She was sent to Yanai, Japan for education and returned to the U.S. as a high school student. She was interned at Heart Mountain, Wyoming and moved to Minneapolis to escape confinement. There she met and married MIS Tech Sergeant Richard Kingo Suenaka. When the war ended they moved to the San Fernando Valley where she lived for the remainder of her life. Both she and Kingo were pioneers and active in the Japanese American community and at the San Fernando Hongwanji Temple.
She will join her beloved family, husband Kingo, her son Larry Kiyoshi and her two brothers, Shuto and George Satoshi Ichimura and her many pets who preceded her in death. She will be remembered by her daughter Naomi Suenaka (Doyle Derr); her beloved grandchildren Joy Isaman (Joey), Todd Suenaka (Eiman), Leanne Nunez (Steve); her daughter-in-law Jennifer Suenaka; and her great-grandchildren, Saylen, Lennox, Kira, Cruz, Nora, and Aki.
Haruyo was a lifelong Buddhist, and also, a lover of animals. Throughout her life there were a variety of animals at her home. Cats, dogs, chickens, birds and koi. Even after moving to the Nikkei Senior Gardens she continued her kindness when a cat happened upon her door. She fed the cat faithfully and made a bed for the cat even after learning that it may have belonged to a neighboring family and that she was, most likely, providing a second meal.
The family wishes to thank all the staff at Nikkei Senior Gardens who continue to treat all the residents with respect and kindness and has taken heroic steps to keep the center healthy and safe.
Due to Covid 19, a memorial service is planned for the one-year anniversary of Haruyo’s passing at which time interment will also take place.