Zen (Zenji) Shibayama was born to Kamekichi and Kimiye Shibayama on July 5, 1924 in Seattle, Washington. He attended local schools in Bainbridge Island, Seattle and Moses Lake, WA. He was drafted near the end of the war, but served with Military intelligence in the war's aftermath in Tokyo and in Manila, the Philippines. For his service, Zen received a Congressional Gold Medal which was awarded by the U.S. Congress Nov. 2, 2011. After the war, the family returned to Bainbridge Island. Zen returned to school and earned a Bachelor's degree in Business at the University of Washington on a GI Bill. When he graduated, he used his business skills to continue his father's business in rental real estate.
Zen's interests included fishing, golf, and photography. He was Leicaphile, a PSA member for many years, and participated in photo exhibits such as the Puyallup fair. He enjoyed Asian art, and collected Netsuke, Tsubas and Japanese wood block prints. In his later years, family gatherings and Sunday dinners at his son Brian's place were a special comfort.
Towards the end of his life, Zen came down with dementia and/or Alzheimer's disease and finally succumbed to a pneumonia/sepsis. He was grateful for the fine care he received at Klein Galland, Covenant Shores, Pearly Jones and Virginia Mason. However, even these illnesses failed to even make a dent in his cheerful personality and famous smile, which he maintained right up to his very last day. He passed away on March 11, 2014 surrounded by family and friends.
He is survived by his wife, Eiko (61 happy years of marriage), sons Dean, Brian (Cathy) and Karl (Maria), and siblings, Jimmy(Grace), Masaru (San Francisco) and Kimi Momoda. Remembrances in Zen's name may be sent to either Nikkei Concerns http://www.nikkeiconcerns.org/pdfs/donation_form.pdf, (206) 323-7100, or the Nisei Veterans Committee http://www.seattlenvc.org/pdfs/donation-nvc.pdf (206) 322-1122, (designate for general fund).
A life celebration/memorial is scheduled for May 17th at Japanese Baptist Church at 3:00 p.m.
Published in The Seattle Times on Apr. 13, 2014