OBITUARY: Ellen Setsuko Shimasaki

SHIMASAKI, ELLEN SETSUKO, 86, passed away November 2014 with her family by her bedside in Castro Valley, CA.

She was born Ellen Shimada in February 1928 to parents Goro and Shizuka Shimada in Stockton, CA. The youngest of five sisters, the family moved to Sacramento where the father managed and the family lived at the Old Union Hotel in Old Town Sacramento.

As a Nisei, the family was forcibly removed from their homes and evacuated to concentration camps after the outbreak of World War II. Initially assigned to Tule Lake and later moved to Topaz Concentration Camp, Ellen attended and graduated from high school and volunteered as a nurse’s aid at the camp clinic.

After the war, she attended the University of California, Berkeley, receiving a BA degree in Physiology in 1949. Upon graduation, she worked at the University of CA San Francisco medical center as a lab technician where she met Fred Shimasaki and were married in July 1951.

The couple began raising a family and purchasing a home in Hayward, CA upon Fred’s return from the Korean War. Fred began work as a pharmacist and later purchased his own store in the 1960’s where Ellen managed the finances and inventory. The couple sold the store in 1993.

In addition to raising three children who all successfully attended and graduated the University of California, Berkeley, Ellen was active in the San Leandro Soroptimists Club where she served as the chapter president. She was committed to educating the public about the incarceration of Japanese Americans during WWII through the Topaz High School Reunion Committee and the JACL. Her other pastimes included reading, cooking, the Eden Community Center, the PTA, Cub Scouts and Brownies, raising and spoiling her grandchildren, and volunteering at the Eden Senior Center.

She is survived by her husband, Fred Shimasaki, her three children, (Dale Shimasaki, Gary Shimasaki and Lois Oda), two in-laws (Ed Oda and Ann Nguyen Shimasaki) and her four grandchildren (Kevin and Lindsay Oda and Lance and Kimora Shimasaki).

Celebration of Life services are on January 10, noon at Pathway Community Church, 6533 Sierra Lane, Dublin.

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