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Kazuko Murakami

1928 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Kazuko Murakami Obituary
Kazuko Murakami

January 5, 1928 - March 8, 2018

Kazuko (Tanaka) Murakami, a long-time resident of San Francisco, passed away peacefully on Thursday, March 8, 2018, at the age of 90.
"Kaz", as she was affectionately known, was born in San Francisco, CA, on January 5, 1928. She spent her early years in the heart of Japantown, as her parents were proprietors of The Nippon Hotel at the corner of Post and Laguna Streets. During WWII under FDR's Exec. Order 9066, her family, like all persons of Japanese descent residing on the West Coast who were forced out from their homes and businesses, was relocated to Heart Mountain, Wyoming, one of numerous U.S. internment camps. As internees were to take with them only what they could carry in a suitcase, the family closed and boarded up their hotel. After the war, they returned to San Francisco to rebuild their lives. Kazuko met her future husband, Mitsuo, while attending UC Berkeley. After college, she joined the many Civil Service Employees working for the U.S. Army in the San Francisco Presidio. Following Mits' military service in the Korean War, they married and settled in San Francisco, and raised 3 children. When the kids were in high school, Kaz entered the work force again, and worked for several years as Secretary at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC).
Kaz will be fondly remembered by all for her trademark LAUGH, quick wit, feisty spirit, and her friendly banter (even with strangers, such as her impish kidding with actor Richard Gere). She showed others about the importance of being true to one's self, and to laugh and enjoy life. Kaz was actively involved with and always supported her kids, their schools' PTA, and their extra-curricular activities. She loved being a Grandma. A voracious knitter and reader, she also loved to cook and bake, and would often insist that friends or her kids' friends who dropped by, stay for dinner. Kaz began what became an annual tradition of hers, hosting for friends and neighbors a traditional Japanese Oshogatsu gathering each New Year's Day, through which neighbors soon grew to be more like extended family. In the summer of 2013, months after her suffering a stroke, she and Mits left San Francisco and moved to Elk Grove, CA.
Kaz leaves behind her children Kimiko (husband, Mike Chan), Lynne (husband, Dwayne Smith), Gary (husband, Wally Taylor), grandchildren Jeremy, Evan, Kaiulani, and Keanu, her sister, Miwako Fukushima, and numerous nieces and nephews. She was predeceased by her husband, Mitsuo, her parents, Yonekichi and Kofuji Tanaka, her brothers, Frank and Yukinori Tanaka, and her beautiful, beloved dog daughter, Senbei. A devoted wife, mother and grandmother, she will be greatly missed by all her family and friends.
Per her request, no funeral services were held, and her ashes were scattered in the waters off the Marin Headlands, joining her late husband, Mits. Her children wish to express their heartfelt thanks for the kindness, love and support from their family and friends.

Published in San Francisco Chronicle on July 15, 2018
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