Masaye Nakamura, Aug. 7, 1923 – Feb. 13, 2020

NAKAMURA, MASAYE passed away on February 13, 2020 at home with her family—one day before Valentine’s day that year. We like to think she was on her way to spend that special day with her husband, “Nobby,” her one true love.

Masaye was the steadfast matriarch of her family, leading with plenty of love and determination to always do what’s right. During her lifetime she never lost sight of her mission to always do her best no matter the challenges or adversity. When the war broke out, she was pulled out of UCLA and imprisoned in a government relocation camp for simply being Japanese. Her father and mother lost their successful business and all of their savings were impounded and taken. In spite of all of the accompanying hardship she was determined to finish her education to better her life for her family. She found a small Midwest University that would accept her and graduated college as valedictorian despite the fact that most townspeople wanted to lynch her when she first arrived.

She got her Master’s degree at Columbia University and went on to get her teaching credential at UC Berkeley where she met her husband Noboru Nakamura. She was the first Japanese American to teach in California schools and spent most of her career educating and counseling at the Oakland Public Schools in the toughest neighborhoods and 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 after school with homemade snacks and treats. She organized and hosted every family gathering, and in later years was able to enjoy some world-wide travel with her beloved husband. She pushed those she loved to be their very best no matter the circumstance and always made herself available as the best listener of the family. Her spirit lives on but she is deeply missed, most of all her smile which would always light up the room.

Just being around her made you feel better, think harder and strive to do more. For that and so much more, all of us are forever grateful for our time on earth in her presence.

Masaye’s celebration will be held on Saturday, April 8, 2023, from 11am-3pm at the beautiful Wente Event Center, 5050 Arroyo Road in Livermore, California, 94550.

A bountiful lunch will be served so please bring your appetite and let’s share some of our special stories of Masaye.

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

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