Aug. 15, 1956 — July 2, 2023
Sharon Uyeda Fong (aka “Snoopy”) was born on Aug. 15, 1956, in Honolulu, Hawaii to parents, Roy and Yoshiko Uyeda. Soon thereafter the U.S. Army sent her father to fight in the Korean War, so her mother was left to care for her until he was discharged. A few years later, the family of three moved so her father could pursue his master’s at UC Berkeley. They then moved back to Hawaii, where in sixth grade she enrolled in the prestigious Punahou School. After graduating in 1974, Sharon spent two years at the University of Hawaii and then transferred to UCLA, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in communication studies in 1978.
Hoping to be a career counselor, she began working in the Career Center on campus. She volunteered that same year to serve as the female head counselor for the annual JEMS Mt. Hermon high school weeklong summer camp. That’s where she met future husband Ken Fong, who had joined the team as the camp’s worship leader. They began dating and were married on July 18, 1981, at the Union Church of Los Angeles in Little Tokyo. She then joined Ken at the Evergreen Baptist Church of Los Angeles, where he had already begun serving as associate pastor.
That same year Sharon quit her job at UCLA to serve as volunteer staff for IWA, a fledgling Christian non-profit that aimed to create more culturally-attuned approaches to evangelizing Japanese and Japanese American people. She became fast friends with Mark Sakanashi, IWA’s board chair. As a certified financial planner, he quickly recognized Sharon’s financial acumen.
Soon after she became a CFP, they joined with friend Paul Mizuki to open Matrix Financial in Pasadena. However, mere days after their grand opening in October 1987, the stock market crashed. They shuttered their business three years later, and Sharon enrolled in Union Bank’s commercial lenders program. She then served in their Montebello and Little Tokyo branches until she joined their Private Bank in Beverly Hills. Ten years later, she transferred to the Private Bank in Downtown L.A., where she continued to enjoy a well-deserved reputation as a savvy and caring banker to scores of well-to-do clients. She retired in late 2017.
In 1999, at the age of 44, she and Ken adopted 6-day-old Janessa Akemi. Several years earlier, she and her mother would have a booth at Nisei Week, selling clothes and jewelry that they crafted using Japanese fabrics and materials. She then joined forces with close friend Irene Jong to produce Koi Krafters, an extremely popular annual holiday craft fair that ran every November for over 25 years.
In 2011 Sharon was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. With the help of her City of Hope oncologists she was able to manage it, even though it continued to spread slowly. But on February 14, 2023, she learned that the cancer had become more aggressive, requiring multiple sessions of radiotherapy and chemotherapy. Yet despite her valiant efforts, she learned in late June that she was terminal. She passed away peacefully at home on July 2, 2023, in the company of her husband, daughter, and her two brothers. She is survived by Ken and Janessa, her parents, Roy and Yoshiko Uyeda; and brothers, Darren and Greg Uyeda.
Her memorial service will be on Aug. 12, 2023, at 10 a.m. at Evergreen Baptist Church of LA, 1255 San Gabriel Blvd., Rosemead, CA 91770. However, because the seating capacity of the church has already been reached, those who have not yet RSVP’d are encouraged to view the livestream of the service on the EBCLA YouTube channel. In lieu of flowers, please donate to Entwine Community, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, based in Los Angeles, with a mission to increase the accessibility & affordability of Asian American & multicultural mental health and support services.
Your donation will help Entwine Community to continue to provide culturally responsive services at a low fee to meet the mental health needs of the community while training mental health professionals and students (www.entwinecommunity.org). Please make PayPal donations to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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