OBITUARY: Grace Sugawara

Grace Sugawara

Grace Sugawara

SUGAWARA, GRACE, 95, passed away peacefully on May 31, 2016 at the age of 95. Grace’s compassion for others, her kindness, generosity, self-effacing humor, her beauty, attention to detail, thoughtfulness, love of animals, and her Christian faith are just a glimpse of what she meant to those who knew her best.

From her years as a Brownie Scout Leader for Troop 527 and Girl Scout Leader for Troop 97, to the time she spent volunteering at Hamilton Pool teaching blind children to swim, to caring for loved ones and friends, Grace believed strongly in giving back to others.

Grace loved taking care of her pets and especially enjoyed walks with Aki and later with Manju. Grace would often walk with them through Golden Gate Park, the Panhandle, and the streets of San Francisco. She found this to be a therapeutic way to unwind and relax. Grace also loved to swim. Many in the community would comment on how beautifully she swam and how graceful she looked.

Her devotion to the human spirit, her appreciation for life, and her desire to be kind to all creatures great and small are what touched the hearts of her family and friends. Grace was an angel among us.

Grace was born on January 28, 1921, in San Francisco, California, to Gentaro and Kirie Sakanari. Gentaro and Kirie had three children, George, Helen, and Grace. Grace was a graduate of Roosevelt Junior High School and Commerce High School and received a diploma from Gallagher-Marsh Business College as a young adult.

Sugawara 2

Grace Sugawara

Grace was among the many Japanese Americans interned during World War II. It was during this time she met and married Paul Sugawara. Paul and Grace were able to leave their internment in Topaz, Utah during the war when Paul was hired to teach Japanese to military personnel in Chicago, Illinois. Following the war, Grace and Paul moved to Richmond, California where they lived for a few years before eventually making their way back to San Francisco.

From 1961 – 1986, Grace worked for the State Compensation Insurance Fund. She enjoyed her work as an analyst and often talked about the lifelong friendships she made with many of her co-workers. During her retirement years, Grace enjoyed her pets, time with family, watching a movie at home with her dear friend Violet, and reading about current events.

Perhaps less noticeable but no less valued was Grace’s willingness to be open to different points of view. In an effort to maintain her health and general well being, Grace incorporated both Western and Eastern medicine, even during the final stages of her life. Both approaches added to her longevity and peaceful passing. During the past few years, as Grace’s health declined, she received wonderful care from those at Kaiser Permanente, Kimochi, her immediate family, and more recently, caregivers Nita, Sioana, and Victoria.

Grace is survived by her four children, Randall, Michael (Cyndy), Susan (Terry), and Jack (Debbie), her grandchildren Janine, Filip (Miranda), Stef, Nick, Ileana (Jeff), Kevin, and Stuart, and her great grandchildren Zoe and Kozo. Grace is also survived by her many nephews, nieces, their families, and her dear friends.

Grace’s parents, Gentaro and Kirie, her brother George, her sister Helen, and Grace’s husband Paul, all preceded her in death. A private service will be held for her immediate family.

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