Joan Hiroko Nakashima (Omachi) quietly passed away in her sleep on May 24, 2021 in Stockton, California from complications due to dementia. She will be missed greatly by her family, friends and all the countless persons whom she encountered during her decades of service to the Lodi community.
Joan and her identical twin sister, Jean were born on February 3, 1930 in Sacramento, California to Peter Shinichi Omachi and Mary Etsuko Omachi (Igarashi), both second generation Japanese Americans.
Joan was the eldest of eight children - arriving eighteen minutes ahead of Jean. She grew up mainly in the central valley of California including Stockton, Sacramento and Loomis where Peter farmed and Mary raised the children, worked as a book-keeper and taught piano lessons. Following the Pearl Harbor attack, the federal government forced her family to move to the Arboga Assembly Center near Yuba City in February 1942 with only four days of notice then to the barren confines of Tule Lake Segregation Center, CA and Topaz War Relocation Center, UT. Although Peter was able to work outside the camps, anti-Japanese sentiment made life outside difficult for all. In and out of the camps, the twins helped care for their siblings, parents and elders. As World War II ended, the Omachi family moved to Nebraska where the family could work on a farm.
Joan attended high school in David City, Nebraska while working to support herself and her family. She graduated as the class Valedictorian of 1948. She began to sing with church choirs while there, beginning an activity she loved throughout the rest of her life. During nursing school at the University of Nebraska-Omaha, Joan met Donald Nakashima, a medical student from Honolulu. Don attended med school on the GI bill following his battle-hardened deployment as a medic in Italy and France with the US Army's 442nd Regimental Combat Team where he was awarded a Purple Heart, the Silver Star and Bronze Star. Shortly after their graduations, they married on June 8, 1951.
After short stays in Honolulu, Seattle and Long Beach, Joan and Don moved to Lodi in 1955 where they started a new medical practice. He as the physician, she as the nurse, receptionist and accountant.
With the birth of their four children, Joan became a full-time mother and community asset. At the Lodi First United Methodist Church, she was a strong and reliable alto voice in the choir and later mentored the youth fellowship groups for over 2 decades. She supported leadership, scholarship and philanthropic efforts and created grape murals during her service with the Alpha Delta Chapter of Omega Nu Sorority. At Lodi Memorial Hospital, she supported the high school Health Careers Club and Candy Striper program for future nurses, volunteered as a nurse in the Medi-Cal pre-natal clinic for 20 years and served on the hospital's board of directors.
Joan raised orchids, tutored at the library, hosted exchange students and Christmas carol parties. She loved travel, dancing, wine, knitting, classical music, Broadway musicals, romance novels, dining with friends and family, sudoku and cross-word puzzles and her six grandchildren. Joan was inducted into the Lodi Hall of Fame in 1999.
Joan is survived by son, Steven Nakashima (Sophie de Caen) of St. Sauveur, Quebec; daughters, Carol Nakashima and Donna Wohlleb (Michael Wohlleb), both of Lodi; and son, James Nakashima (Anna Harrison), of Sacramento; sisters, Esther Milnes of Fresno, Gertrude Hope Kawashima of Fresno, Elaine Omachi of Sequim, WA, Patricia Tate of Citrus Heights and Katherine Cookson of Sequim, WA; granddaughter, Camille Nakashima of Woodside, NY; and five grandsons, Greg Wohlleb of San Jose, Cedric Nakashima of Bronx, NY, Nicholas Wohlleb of Phoenix, AZ and Donald and Kenji Nakashima of Sacramento.
She was pre-deceased by husband, Donald Nakashima; sister, Jean Urashima; brother, Elbert Omachi; and her parents.
Joan's memorial service will be held at First United Methodist Church of Lodi, 200 W. Oak Street on Saturday, June 12, 2021 at 2 PM with Pastor George Edd-Bennett officiating followed by a modest reception onsite. Social distancing measures will be practiced including the use of masks. The memorial service will be live-streamed online at https://youtu.be/VDeAvOyi9_U. Cremation will be private with arrangements by Lodi Funeral Home and followed by interment at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, HI.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Lodi Memorial Hospital Foundation (LMHfoundation.org
), the Hospice of San Joaquin (Hospicesj.org
), the Stockton Symphony (Stocktonsymphony.org
) or the First United Methodist Church of Lodi (Lodifirstchurch.org
Published by Lodi-News Sentinel from Jun. 9 to Jun. 15, 2021.