OBITUARY: Kei (Hasegawa) Noguchi

Kei (Hasegawa) Noguchi

Kei (Hasegawa) Noguchi

NOGUCHI, KEI (HASEGAWA), 93, died on November 24, 2015. She was predeceased by her husband, Nike Noguchi, in 2007.

Kei was born October 20, 1922, in San Francisco, the only child of Japanese immigrant parents. She had a happy childhood and from a young age she began to develop her lifelong talents for friendship, music, and cooking. She graduated from Girls High School, class of fall 1940, and attended Heald’s Business College.

In the spring of 1942 the family, by U.S. executive order, was forced to leave San Francisco and enter an internment camp, an order that affected more than 127,000 people of Japanese ancestry. Kei’s family remained at Topaz Relocation Center in the high desert of central Utah for the duration of World War II. Kei rarely spoke of this time, except to mention friends she had made “at camp.”

While at Topaz, Kei was employed as secretary to the Evacuee Property Officer. In a letter of recommendation, attorney Ralph Barnhart wrote, “She is intelligent and apt, and much of the success of the Project Attorney’s office was due to her efficient services.”

The family returned to San Francisco and reestablished their lives. Kei was hired as a secretary working for attorneys for the U.S. government. A few years later, Kei’s talent on the piano attracted the attention of a handsome young engineer employed at Bechtel, Nike Noguchi. The couple married in 1950, and Kei enjoyed being part of the large and close Noguchi family.

Nike and Kei had three children, Eileen, Bonnie, and Mark. Kei took time out to raise her young family before she returned to her government job and completed a 20-year career there.

In 1957, Nike moved his family to Mill Valley because he wanted his children to enjoy nature and the outdoors. He also undertook the project of building a lovely home for his family to enjoy. Nike and Kei took great pleasure in their children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews — and dogs. There was always a dog or two in the Noguchi household.

Kei enjoyed playing the piano at church, weddings, and community functions as well as lots of music at home with the family. She was also passionate about cooking both Japanese and American food, and especially loved baking. Her favorite room was the kitchen, where she had a TV so she could watch cooking shows and be near her pot of coffee.

In December 2006, Kei was moved to The Rafael Convalescent Home following hip surgery. She quickly made friends with other residents and their visitors, as well as the staff.

She was a sociable person who thrived in this environment, playing the piano, winning at bingo, and making people laugh. Her family is very grateful to the staff for their kindness, friendliness, and attentive care as she was able to age gracefully and remain cheerful. She died peacefully at The Rafael, in her sleep, of pneumonia.

Kei is survived by daughter Eileen (Hana) Fujiwara and grandsons Neil and Kurt Fujiwara, daughter Bonnie (Skip) Hunter, and son Mark (Kay) Noguchi, as well as nieces, nephews, great nieces, and great nephews.

A celebration of Kei’s life will be held on January 30 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., with a short service at 1:30 p.m., at The Club at McInnis Park, 350 Smith Ranch Road, San Rafael.

Comments

  1. Scott Nakamura says

    Deepest Sympathies to the Noguchi Family.
    Your parents were dear friends to my parents.
    Mrs Noguchi played the organ at our wedding in 1980 as she promised.
    We will miss seeing her smiling face and chatting with her.
    Our thoughts are with you all.
    Namo Amida Butsu
    scott & sandy nakamura

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