OBITUARY: Sumiko Kamikawa Murashima

Sumiko Kamkikawa Murashima

Sumiko Kamikawa Murashima

MURASHIMA, SUMIKO KAMIKAWA, 93, entered the Pure Land peacefully in her home in Berkeley on October 8, 2015.

Sumi, as she was known, was born on August 16, 1922, in Fresno, the fourth of five children to Koichi and Kaoru Shimata Kamikawa, who ran the popular Kamikawa Brothers general merchandise store in Fresno’s Japantown. Sumi attended Lincoln Grammar School, Edison Junior High and Fresno High School, where she graduated in 1940. She went on to Fresno State College, but her education was interrupted in 1942 by the forced removal of Japanese Americans from the West Coast. She received an honorary bachelor’s of arts degree from the university on May 20, 2010.

In 1942, the Kamikawa family was uprooted from Fresno and sent to the Jerome internment camp in Denson, Arkansas. Before World War II ended, the family moved to Seabrook, New Jersey, where they worked at the Seabrook Farms frozen foods plant, and later, Bridgeton, New Jersey.

Sumi married James Murashima, who she had known since childhood, on February 17, 1945, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Their first child, John, was born on November 14, 1945, in Bridgeton, New Jersey.

The family returned to Fresno, where Sumi worked at Mikami Travel Agency, and then moved to Berkeley, where she worked at the UC Berkeley library while James attended and earned a bachelor’s of science degree at UC Berkeley. They then returned to Fresno, where their second child, Maya, was born on April 21, 1952.

They also lived in Stockton and Torrance before eventually settling in Berkeley in 1965, where Sumi worked for the state Alcoholic Beverage Control in Oakland while James was the administrator for the Laboratory Field Services for the California Department of Health.

Sumi was an active member of the Buddhist Church of Oakland, and served as president of the Oakland Buddhist Women’s Association. She was also a member of the Wanto Hiroshima Nikkeijinkai. She enjoyed traveling with James to places such as Alaska, the Caribbean, Japan and Hong Kong, and was active in bowling, ballroom dancing and the Mujin social group.

Sumi will be remembered as a caring and loving wife, mother, aunt, grandmother and great-grandmother. She was known for her kindness, her outgoing personality, good nature and for her unwavering dedication to her family

Sumi was preceded in death by the love of her life, her beloved husband James, who she was happily married to for 63 years; her parents, Koichi and Kaoru Shimata Kamikawa; brother, Thomas Kamikawa; and two sisters, Akiko Matsui and Satoko Higashi.

She is survived by her sister, Mitsue Hurlbert; two children, John (Irene) Murashima,  and Maya Murashima Yonemura (Paul Yonemura); two granddaughters, Kellie and Kristin Murashima; grandson, Brian Murashima Ho (Diana DiGennaro); and two great-grandchildren, Miles and Avery Ho.

Memorial services will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday, November 8, 2015, at the Buddhist Church of Oakland, 825 Jackson St., Oakland.

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