Betty Kurihara Ozawa

OZAWA, BETTY KURIHARA, 87, born May 2, 1931 in Tulare, California to Kumaki and Tomi Kurihara of Kumamoto, Japan, grew up on a farm, the youngest of eight siblings. In 1942 she was one of 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry who was forcibly relocated to Poston III, an internment camp in Arizona. Betty remained in camp for three years. After return to the West Coast, Betty graduated from Orosi High School in 1949 as the top student of her class. Betty went on to the University of California at Berkeley and graduated from the UCSF School of Nursing in 1954.

On November 6, 1960, Betty married the love of her life, Koji Ozawa of San Francisco. They shared 58 years of a blessed marriage and had three children.

As an RN, Betty worked at UCSF Hospital, then at the California Pacific Medical Center for twenty years, serving on the specialty IV team and cardiology floor. She was an ardent advocate of patients and families.

Among her many artistic interests, Betty enjoyed singing choral music, performing with the UC Berkeley Chorus, the SF Bach Choir and the SF Municipal Choir under the direction of Dr. Hans Leschke. She cherished her friends and was enlivened by conversation and learning from others. Betty’s greatest joy was her family, especially her eleven grandchildren, who gave her purpose and much delight with their activities and accomplishments. She was a devoted daughter-in-law to Joe Iwao and Ayako Ozawa for many years.

Betty had a phenomenal memory and astute wit, a generous and loving spirit, and an optimism and cheer that brightened the days of those around her. She died unexpectedly of complications of pneumonia on October 21, 2018, and is deeply missed.

Survivors include husband Koji, sister Marie, daughters Carol and Donna, son Bryan and grandchildren: Brendan, Caitlin, Alana, Aislinn, Aodhan, Curran, Brian, Caera and Cevan Ozawa Burns, David and Tommy Ozawa.

A private burial will be held. A memorial reception will take place at the Sequoias, San Francisco, 12/29/18 at 2:00 PM. Memorial donations may be sent to the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of San Francisco, the National Japanese American Historical Society, or a charity of choice.

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The 2024 Films of Remembrance sheds light on the forced removal and incarceration of the Japanese American community into American concentration camps during World War II.