SUGIHARA, EIKO HONDA, a resident of Richmond, Calif., died on December 4, 2009 in a car fire in Lafayette, Calif. Eiko was born on February 10, 1923, to Kichisaburo and Ayako Honda in Redwood City, Calif. She was the middle child, between two brothers, Osamu and Hiroshi.
Eiko attended Sequoia High School in Redwood City, graduating in the class of 1940, with honors. In 1942, she and her family were among the many of the Japanese Americans on the San Francisco Peninsula taken to the Tanforan Race Track Assembly Center in San Bruno and eventually sent to the Topaz Relocation Center in Utah, during World War II as a part of the Japanese and Japanese-American Internment. During her time in Topaz War Relocation Center interment camp, Eiko served as a reporter and an editor of the Topaz Times, the camp newspaper.
After leaving Topaz, Eiko married John Shigekazu Sugihara on June 17, 1954. They had two sons, Mark, born in 1957 and Wayne, born in 1960.
Eiko devoted her time to the family business, Sugihara Nursery, a wholesale cut-rose-growing nursery. She devoted time to volunteer with the Contra Costa Chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), working on the monthly newsletter and serving on their Board. During her time with JACL, between 1978-1980, she urged others to work for redress for survivors of Japanese-American internment during WWII, which eventually led to Ronald Reagan signing the Civil Liberties Act of 1988. She also volunteered her time with her church, the Berkeley Buddhist Temple, working with the Berkeley Buddhist Women’s Association.
After her husband’s death in 1990, Eiko continued to live a fulfilling life working in the nursery business, and traveling extensively with her sister-in-law, Tamiko Honda, to Europe and other destinations. She also continued her volunteer work with the JACL and Berkeley Buddhist Temple.
She is survived by her two sons Mark and Wayne Sugihara.
There will be a memorial service at the Berkeley Buddhist Temple, 2121 Channing Way Berkeley, CA 94704, on Sunday, Jan. 24 at 2 p.m. Friends, family and associates are welcome to attend.