Passed away on June 28, 2013 at age 84 due to a stroke. She was born in Tokyo, Japan on July 13, 1928. Her father Seizo worked as a city official, and mother Tama cared for the family. As a student in World War II Japan, Sue endured many hardships, including food shortages, bombings, work in factories, and the loss of her parents. She remembered bearing it all with quiet resolve and resourcefulness, qualities she carried with her throughout life. Postwar, Sue worked at the Ginza department store, which still exists today. Soon after, she became an artist's apprentice at the nearby Tokyo PX. There she met Tom Thorn, an American soldier, and in 1949 they married. A son arrived the following year, and Sue raised the baby in Tokyo while Tom served in the Korean War. In 1952, after moving to the U.S. and landing in San Francisco, the family settled in Winter Park, Florida, where two daughters were born. Sue learned much about U.S. culture from in-laws and friends. To remain connected to her own culture, she joined a Japanese club in Orlando. The family remembers many holiday gatherings, where her delicious sushi was enjoyed by all. In 1971 Sue began working at Winter Park Day Nursery as a preschool teacher, then as assistant supervisor. She and Tom eventually separated and divorced in 1985. In 1983 Sue moved to California, where her children had relocated. Happy to return to SF, she worked at Parkside Nursery School and visited the Japan Center often. True to her strong spirit, she survived breast cancer in the late 80's, while working and attending City College, earning a degree in Early Childhood Education. Twice she returned to Japan and also travelled to Canada and around the U.S. At age 73, Sue retired to Burbank Orchards in Sebastopol, where she enjoyed many friends, art classes, and daily walks in the garden. After a stroke in 2011, she moved in with her daughter and son-in-law. Sue loved the family cats, having had many cherished ones of her own over the years. She also continued to enjoy her art, and her love of people and nature was reflected in her beautiful paintings. Sue passed away peacefully in San Francisco with family at her side. Preceded in death by her beloved parents; brothers Akira, Susumu, and Takashi; in-laws and former husband, she is survived by son Terrence Thorn, daughters Jennifer McDow and Victoria Thorn (Allan Klotz); six grandchildren, Marianne, Jean, Sonya, Evan, Joel, and Ben; three great grandchildren, Brooke, Mackenzie, and Luke; one great-great grandchild, Harper, and many nieces and nephews. The family would like to thank all of Sue's kind friends and caregivers for their love and support. We will always remember her sweet smile, loving nature, creative soul, enthusiasm for education, and strong, independent spirit. A memorial gathering is planned for the near future. Contributions in Sue's memory may be made to Sebastopol Senior Center's Day Program through the Council on Aging
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Published Online in the Press Democrat from July 21 to July 22, 2013