George Matsumoto
George Matsumoto

MATSUMOTO, GEORGE, 93, passed away peacefully at home on June 28, 2016. Three of his five children were with him.

Born in San Francisco, California on July 16, 1922, George was the second child of Manroku and Ise Matsumoto. Growing up in San Francisco’s Nihonmachi (Japantown), he attended Lowell High School in San Francisco, and Japanese classes at Kinmon Gakuen. George enrolled at UC Berkeley where he majored in architecture, but in his final semester, he and his family were sent to an internment camp in Poston, Arizona after WWII broke out.

George left Poston to finish his undergraduate education at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He earned his Master’s Degree in architecture at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan where he studied with Finnish architect Eliel Saarinen. Thereafter, George taught architecture at the University of Oklahoma before accepting a position at the newly established School of Design at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. He also opened his architecture office in the award winning family home he designed, and received numerous awards for his designs in North Carolina.

George married a friend and neighbor from his San Francisco days, the former Kimi Nao.After thirteen years in North Carolina, George and his family returned to California in 1961, settling in Oakland. In addition to teaching at UC Berkeley, George also continued to practice architecture and was inducted as a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1973. He eventually gave up teaching to practice architecture full-time. His better known designs include the School of Nursing Building on the UC San Francisco medical campus, the Bechtel Engineering Center at UC Berkeley, and the Mountain View Buddhist Temple Sangha Hall and Gymnasium.

Among a varied range of interests, George was known as an avid fisherman. He also enjoyed traveling, and passed these loves on to his children and grandchildren.

George was preceded in death by Kimi, his wife of 53 years. He is survived by his daughters Mari, (John Ota), Kiyo, (Colin Lee), Kei, (Chris Lamen), and Miye, (Randy Sears) and son Kenneth, seven grandchildren, (Kimi, Liam, and Miya Lee, and Max, Gus, George, and Sachiko Lamen), brother, Dr. Kenneth Matsumoto as well as numerous nieces and nephews.

George maintained a strong connection to UC Berkeley which he, his father, and five children attended. In addition to studying, teaching, and designing a building on the UC Berkeley campus, he and two Japanese American friends established a scholarship in memory of their fathers for immigrants and first generation Cal students. In 2013 George was able to see a long held dream come to fruition when he, along with fellow Japanese American former Cal students, established a Japanese cherry tree grove at the western gate of the campus. In recognition of this lifelong affiliation with Cal, his family celebrated George’s life at the UC Berkeley campus on what would have been his 94th birthday.

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