March 18, 1921 – December 4, 2021

On Saturday, December 4, 2021, Tomeko Sugiyama, loving wife, and mother of 4 children, passed away at age 100.

Born in Jerome, Idaho on March 18, 1921, to Ryokichi Shiba and Sumi (Nagasawa) Shiba, Tomeko was one of 6 siblings. Ryokichi was a farmer and Sumi was a housewife and homemaker.

Immigration records show that Ryokichi came to Los Angeles on April 8, 1931, possibly to take Tomeko back to Japan for her schooling. She had mentioned that she went to Japan at about age 9. In Japan, she attended school and lived at their home in Shizuoka Ken.

Tomeko returned to America on the Asama Maru sailing out of Yokohama on August 16, 1940, and arriving in Los Angeles. Tomeko was married on November 3, 1940, in Los Angeles at age 19 to Sakujiro Sugiyama. The ceremony was at the Tenrikyo Church, then located at 144 North Chicago Street. They raised a daughter, Alice, and three sons, Toshitada, Jimmy, and Ronnie.

She lived in Idaho, Montana, Nebraska, and in several California towns including Los Angeles (Rt. 1 Box 1414), Montebello and Manzanar. After the Manzanar relocation camp was closed, she was eventually reunited in Los Angeles with her brothers Tom and Jim, their wives and other friends and relatives.

Tomeko was a dedicated homemaker who made lunch every day for Dad and all the children as well as being an accomplished seamstress producing clothing for some of Los Angeles’s famous clothiers as well as making clothes for all the children. Her favorite pastime was reading and she would spend many hours reading and learning new things. She would often claim to not read English, but she had many fooled.

She was preceded in death by her beloved husband, Sakujiro “Tom”; and is survived by her four children: Alice Nakanishi (the late Richard), Tosh Sugiyama (Mitsu), Jim Sugiyama (Nancy), and Ronnie Sugiyama (Joanne); seven grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.

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