Sandra Keiko Nakamura, 63, passed away peacefully in her sleep on Feb. 24, 2013 while in Boston, Mass. undergoing treatment for appendiceal cancer. She was born in Wahiawa, Hawaii on Jan. 25, 1950 to Gilbert and Tomoyo Yuruki. She graduated from Leilehua High School in 1968 and attended Whittier College and the University of Hawaii, receiving a bachelor's degree in elementary education in 1972. She married the love of her life, Masashi Nakamura, on Dec. 29, 1973. After traveling extensively as a military family and forming friendships around the world, they settled in Las Cruces, N.M. with their three children, Mari, Brian and Sachi, in 1984. Fulfilling a longstanding dream, Sandra completed a master's degree in education at New Mexico State University in 1989 and then a doctorate in curriculum and instruction with a focus in literacy in 2009. After several years as a first-grade teacher and staff development professional, she retired from the Las Cruces Public Schools in 2010. At that time, the Dr. Sandra K. Nakamura Professional Development Excellence Award was inaugurated which annually recognizes Las Cruces Public Schools teachers and administrators who deliver or support quality professional development which positively impacts the knowledge and practices of LCPS staff. Sandra and her husband then moved to Kapolei, Hawaii in 2011 and Sandra began working for the Hawaii Department of Education shortly thereafter. Sandra was a devoted wife, mother and grandmother who loved spending time with her two grandchildren, Aidan and Kayleigh. She enjoyed reading, watching movies, exercising daily and raising orchids. She is greatly missed and will be forever remembered and loved. Sandra was preceded in death by her father, Gilbert Kenichi Yuruki, and brother, Galen Yuruki. She is survived by her husband, Masashi Nakamura; her daughters, Mari Nakamura and Sachi (Nakamura) Webb; her son, Brian Nakamura; mother, Tomoyo Yuruki; sisters, Shirley (Yuruki) Kondo and Lani (Yuruki) Uyeno; and grandchildren, Aidan and Kayleigh Webb. Memorial services in Las Cruces will be held on Saturday, March 16, 2013, at the First Presbyterian Church, 200 E. Boutz Road, Las Cruces, NM. The service begins at 10 a.m. In lieu of flowers, those wishing to make a donation in Sandra's memory to The Children's Reading Foundation of Doña Ana County (CRFDAC) may bring a new children's book to the service on March 16 or donate to the Reading is Fundamental organization (www.rif.org/).
Published in Las Cruces Sun-News on Mar. 14, 2013