March 1, 1928 – November 21, 2021
Noriko Shudo was born on March 1, 1928 in Meguro, Japan. Father was Saburo Uehara. Her mother died when she was 3 years old and her name is unknown. When in elementary school, she received the “Kagayaku Bushido” award for her calligraphy work, which was displayed at her school. She was an honor student, excelling in academics and athletics. She was the fastest runner among the female students. During junior high school, she did a lot of housework, since she did not have a mother. Her aunt lived nearby and helped out a lot. Noriko graduated Tokyo Metropolitan Meguro High School in 1945 with honors. Admission into a government school was very competitive, since there were only 6 high schools for girls in Tokyo. After graduation, she got a job as a telephone operator through a newspaper ad at a telephone company operated by the U.S. Occupation. Since she studied English at an American Missionary school in Aomonoyokocho in the Shinagawa Ward, she was able to land a very good paying job. This helped her family immensely after the war. She also learned to play piano and sing English songs. She loved to sing and eat chocolates handed out by GIs. She married Kunihiro Shudo in 1951, a Christian and graduate of Tokyo University of Foreign Studies. They moved to the United States in 1952 where Kunihiro attended Asbury Theological Seminary in Lexington, KY to become a minister. Daughter Etsuko and son David were born in 1954 and 1955. After becoming a minister in 1958, they moved to Elroy, WI, where son Daniel was born in 1959. In 1960, they moved back to Tokyo, where Kunihiro got an assignment at the Tokyo Union Church in the Aoyama Ward. Kunihiro quit the church in 1962 and together with Noriko, opened an English conversation school in the Shimotakaido area in the Setagaya ward. The school was the first of its kind at the time and was very successful. In 1970, Noriko and Kunihiro divorced. Since Kunihiro would not pay tuition for the kids to continue at American schools in Japan, Noriko moved with her 3 children to Los Angeles to stay with the Tsuneishi family in 1971. She met Ms. Frances Tsuneishi, a Japanese American who worked at the missionary school in Japan. Frances and her 2 brothers, Hughes and Noel, were very kind and generous to take in a family of 4 into their home. Noriko found work at the Mitsubishi Bank in Little Tokyo and did translation work on the side. Etsuko and David worked part-time jobs while in high school to help out. On October 19, 1979, Noriko became a U.S. citizen. She also attended East Los Angeles Community College, where she received an associate degree.
Noriko had a tough life after the divorce, but worked hard and took care of her family. She believed that her faith in God gave her strength to persevere through the trying times. Noriko loved her family and enjoyed attending her grandchildren’s activities. She had a special connection with daughter-in-law, LuAnn. Even with dementia, Noriko would remember LuAnn and say her name when shown a picture, but couldn’t recognize her sons and daughter! She loved music and enjoyed singing, playing piano and organ at the Issei Baptist Church in Los Angeles. She played piano at the Sakura Intermediate Care Facility whenever she wanted, which made her happy. She also played songs on the piano by memory at Kei-Ai Lincoln Heights up until a week before her passing.
She passed away peacefully in her sleep on November 21, 2021 at the Kei-Ai Healthcare Center in Los Angeles.
Noriko is predeceased by her father, Saburo Uehara. She is survived by daughter, Etsuko; sons, David and Daniel; grandchildren, Justin, Tachi and Miko; brother, Mitsuharu Uehara; sister in-law, Yoshie; nieces, Wakana Tanabe and Azusa Uehara; and grandnieces, Karen and Akane Uehara.
A viewing will be held on Sunday, December 12 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Fukui Mortuary “Chapel in the Garden,” 707 E. Temple St. in Los Angeles.