Ruby Teruko Iwamasa departed this world, July 24, 2020.
She is survived by her husband, Robert Iwamasa, who treasured their every moment together. She birthed and raised three loving sons, Kenneth, Jonathan (Kathryn) and Andrew (Rhonda). Her greatest love was children - all that she encountered - and she doted on her beloved grandchildren, Justin, Hayden, Josef, Sofie and Hiro. She is also survived by her loving siblings, Irene Roche, Har Shiotani and Rich (Kitty) Shiotani, as well as her dear nieces and nephews.
Ruby was born Feb. 24, 1939 and raised in the rural farming area of Anaheim, Calif. From 1942 to 1944 she and her family, the Shiotanis, were sent to the U.S. government internment camp at Poston along with many Japanese-Americans. In later life, she and husband Robert shared stories from their childhood in the camp to help educate others.
Ruby did so much to share love, curiosity and joy with the world. She taught preschool, worked for Delta College and public television (Midland friends will remember that she emceed many pledge drives in the 1980s and 1990s), and devoted her many skills to Rotary. She had boundless energy for so long, and you couldn't take her anywhere in Mid-Michigan without running into people that knew and loved her.
This woman knew how to love.
She received her A.A. degree from Hartnell Junior College in Salinas, Calif., and earned a B.A. degree in elementary education with a minor in speech correction from San Jose State. She taught in California, Maryland and Michigan. In Michigan, Ruby became an advocate, teacher and administrator in the cooperative preschool movement while raising her sons. As a member of the Memorial Presbyterian Church, she was active in church programs for children. She served as president of the Mid-Michigan Council of Cooperative Nurseries and later, as president of the Mid-Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children.
In 1983, after 12 years as a Delta College Channel 19 volunteer, Ruby joined the Delta College staff. Through initiatives such as the PBS Ready To Learn Service, Ruby championed the educational uses of public television programming. In 2003, Ruby received the Outstanding Hispanic Advocate award from Delta College's Multicultural Services Division. Before her retirement in September 2004, she served as manager of educational services and outreach. Ruby received the Pioneer Award from the Michigan Association of Public Broadcasters for her 32-year involvement with Delta College's public TV station.
Ruby was an active Rotarian for many years, serving on the board of directors and numerous committees. She was a Paul Harris Fellow and served as the first female president of the Midland Noon Rotary Club. Eventually, she served as the district governor of Rotary District 6310 and attended the 2004 International Rotary Convention in Osaka, Japan.
In her retirement, Ruby embraced events in the world with the enthusiasm of a young mind. She and Robert traveled the globe. They saw the Three Tenors perform in Paris, "Les Miserables" on stage in London, and friends who lived in Panama. A groundbreaker herself, Ruby insisted on traveling to Washington for President Obama's inauguration. Ruby was a major contributor to (and a subject in) the Midland County Historical Society's Voices exhibit, featuring those whose individual stories were an inspiration and influence on Midland County. As survivors of the Poston internment camp, she and Robert were particularly grateful they could travel to New York City to see George Takei's play "Allegiance" on stage and were honored to meet the playwright backstage. Ruby was also a very committed Adam Lambert fan and attended several concerts, including his recent tour with Queen.
As you celebrate Ruby's life, hold dear the principles that guided her: creativity, compassion and delight in the promise of all the children and young people you know. Follow in her hopeful and loving footsteps, and be the change you wish to see in the world.
The family will receive friends on Thursday, July 30, 2020 from 1-3 p.m. at Ware-Smith-Woolover Funeral Home, 1200 W. Wheeler St., Midland. At 3 p.m., the Rev. Dr. Wallace H. Mayton III of Memorial Presbyterian Church will conduct an outside service for up to 100 persons. Due to the ongoing pandemic, social distancing and capacity guidelines will be observed at the funeral home, and masks are required. Cremation will follow. The family requests that those wishing to honor Ruby consider donations to organizations dear to her heart: Memorial Presbyterian Church, Midland Rotary Noon Club or Delta Broadcasting Q TV.
Robert and family would like to thank Dr. Gail Colby and staff, Dr. Daniel Danso, Dr. Adeel Kahn, Dr. Graham for their years of taking care of Ruby, in addition to Heartland Hospice and Primrose Retirement Community of Midland.