Toshiko “Toshi” Tsudama, long time resident of Watsonville, passed away peacefully on Friday, June 29, 2012 at the age of 89.
Toshi was born in Fowler, California on January 2, 1923 to Hikoichi and Yaeko Tara. She was the second of five daughters: Yoshiye (Yo), Toshi, Chiyeko, Emiko (Emi), and Fujiko (Fudge). The growing family lived in Fowler and Selma in the Central Valley making their living working in the farming community. Toshi graduated from Selma High School in 1940 and began working.
In 1942 the family was interned at Gila River, Arizona where Toshi did “light office work” while her two younger sisters attended high school. Toshi left camp for Cleveland to join her older married sister. Toshi attended services at the local Buddhist Church and there she met her future husband, Masato (Mas) Tsudama. When WWII ended, Toshi’s family returned to Parlier in the Central Valley.
Mas and Toshi were married in Fresno on March 4, 1946 and joined the Tsudama family in Alamosa, Colorado. Their first child, Donna, was born in 1947. They moved to Fresno shortly thereafter and Toshi worked in a fig factory for a short time. Their first son, Ted was born in Fresno in May 1951.
In June 1951, the growing family moved to Watsonville to manage a zucchini farm. A second son, Sonny was born in 1953 but did not survive. The family moved to a house on the outskirts of Watsonville to try their hand at farming strawberries. In 1956 the family moved to “town” where their third and fourth sons were born, Dick in January 1957 and Bill in December 1957.
Toshi and Mas opened their own business, Flowers by Toshi in 1976 and operated this shop together for eight years until Mas’ death in 1984. Toshi continued in the business with her son Dick until 1985 when the store was sold to Ryoko Haneta Kozuki. Toshi married Fred Nakagawa in 1989 and enjoyed traveling and spending time with family and friends. She continued working part time at the shop into her 80’s. After Fred’s death in 2000, Toshi further reduced her hours at the shop and then fully retired when she was 85.
Toshi was preceded in death by her husbands Masato Tsudama and Fred Nakagawa, her son Sonny, her parents and step father Saburo Oda, her sisters Chiyeko and Fudge (Sasaki), and in-laws Ben and Sue Tsudama, Jack Tsudama, and Betty Tsudama. Toshi is survived by her four children: Donna Yokomizo (Clifford), Ted (Shirley), Dick (Joan), and Bill (Kathy); sisters Yo Kaita (Kay) and Emi Kaita (Roy), in-laws Minky Tsudama (Hiro), Helen Tsudama, Gary Tsudama, Kiyo Inn (Harry), step daughter Linda Wilson (Rick), 8 grandchildren, 2 step grandchildren, 3 great grandchildren, and many nieces, nephews, and grand nieces and nephews.
Toshi was involved in many organizations affiliated with the Watsonville Buddhist Temple and enjoyed activities at the JACL (Japanese Americans Citizens League) Senior Center. She enjoyed making jams, jellies, Japanese pickles and a variety of dessert items for family and friends and spent time reading, sewing and handicrafts, but especially loved watching Korean dramas. Toshi was beloved for her generous spirit and friendly though shy personality.
Family and friends are invited to attend a memorial service which will be held on July 7 at 11:00 AM at the Watsonville Buddhist Temple. Donations in her memory may be made to the Watsonville Buddhist Temple, 423 Bridge Street, Watsonville 95076.
For the complete article see the 07-03-2012 issue.
Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 07-03-2012 paper.
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