Masaye Nakamura

Aug. 7, 1923 – Feb. 13, 2020

NAKAMURA, MASAYE, 96, passed away on February 13, 2020 at home with her family. She was the steadfast matriarch of her family, leading peacefully but with stout determination. During her lifetime, she lived through and overcame challenges and adversity that would crumble most today. During the war, she was pulled out of UCLA and imprisoned in a government relocation camp simply for being Japanese. Determined to finish her education and better her life for her family, she graduated college as valedictorian in a Midwest town that initially threatened to lynch her. She got her masters degree at Columbia University and went on to get her teaching credential at UC Berkeley where she met her husband and love of her life, Nobby Nakamura. She was the first Japanese American to teach in California schools and spent most of her career educating and counseling for the Oakland Public Schools in the toughest neighborhoods and the poorest schools. When a former student of hers was asked how Masaye was as a teacher, he enthusiastically declared “Everyone wanted to be in her class because you knew you would learn something. She was very tough, but always fair”.

Naturally artistic, she filled her home with her many watercolors and abstracts in a home full of light, hers being the brightest.

She loved being involved with her grandchildren, caring and watching over them afterschool with homemade snacks and treats. She organized and hosted every family event, and in later years was able to enjoy some worldwide travel with her beloved husband. She pushed those she loved to be their very best no matter what the circumstance and always made herself available as the best listener of the family. Her spirit lives on but she surely will be missed, most of all her smile which could light up a room.

Just being around her made you feel better, think harder, do more and we are forever grateful for our time on earth in her presence.

Masaye’s celebration will be held on Sunday, March 22, 2020, from 1pm – 5pm at the beautiful Wente Event Center, 5050 Arroyo Road in Livermore, CA 94550.

In lieu of flowers, the family asked that you make a donation in Masaye’s name to J-Sei, 1285 66th St., Emeryville, CA 94608

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