Neil Shozo Fujita - Neil was born Shozo Fujita May 8, 1934 in Tokyo, Japan to Masanao and Sawako (Iwata) Fujita. His father was the minister of the Koishikawa-Hukasan Church in Tokyo and a lecturer in the seminary; his mother was a graduate of Bible school and remained secretary of her alumni association well into her 90s. He added the first name, Neil, when he became a U.S. citizen in 1978. He died April 9, 2021 after a brief illness.
He completed his education through graduate seminary study in Tokyo. As he lived through the war as a child removed to the country-side for schooling, returning to Tokyo to find a bomb-leveled city including his father's church compound, he became strongly against war. But with changes in Japan, he was able to attend the same high school as the Emperor's son who was in a class next to his.
He received his Ph.D. in Old Testament Studies at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, NJ writing his dissertation on the Dead Sea Scrolls. During his studies he spent a year in archaeological research in Israel and later spent two other periods in digs and studies in Israel. He taught religious studies at Iona College, New Rochelle, New York for 30 years, a profession he loved. The college honored him with Bene Merenti. His publications included Introducing the Bible (a textbook he wrote for his students), A Crack in the Jar: What Ancient Jewish Documents Tell Us about the New Testament, and Japan's Encounter with Christianity: The Catholic Mission in Pre-Modern Japan.
Since retirement in 2001 he has resided in Bristol Village in Waverly, Ohio. For three years he preached once a month for the Japanese Christian Church of Columbus, Ohio, and from 2002 to 2015, he sometimes preached in the First Presbyterian Church in Chillicothe, Ohio and from 2001 to 2020 at Vespers at Bristol Village. He enjoyed particularly the Faith and Values Forum at Bristol, his own research in Biblical studies and languages, the friendly nature of the folks in Bristol and southern Ohio, and the view of the pleasant hills around Waverly.
He is survived by his wife of 47 years, Eleanor, of Waverly, Ohio, his nephew Takeshi (Aki) Fujita, his nieces Miho (Yasuharu) Inomata and Masako (Yoichi) Nishimoto, his great nieces and nephews, his cousins Mana and Koji Iwata all of Tokyo, Japan, his sister-in-law, Jean (Bert) Kinsey of Frazeysburg,Ohio, and his brother-in-law, George (Nancy) McKee of Cincinnati, Ohio. He is predeceased by his parents, his brothers, Masakatsu and Masahiro Fujita, and his nephew, Toru Fujita.
If any gifts are made in his honor, please address them either to Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, New Jersey for student scholarships or to the National Church Residences hospice service at Bristol Village, Waverly, Ohio.
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Published by Pike County News Watchman from Apr. 13 to Apr. 23, 2021.