Kiyome Shizuru

June 17, 1921 – March 17, 2021 

Kiyome (“Kiyo” or “Kay”), a long-time resident of Los Altos, at the age of 99, passed away in her sleep on March 17, 2021 in Palo Alto, California. She is survived by her daughters, Diane, Jeanne, Joanne and Judy, and son, James Lawrence Shizuru, and by her 3 grandsons, David, Michael and Daniel and 1 granddaughter, Tetua. Just 3 months short of her 100th birthday, Kiyo was predeceased by her husband, her parents and her 4 sisters and 3 brothers.

Kiyo was kind, gentle, hard-working and a willing helper to everyone she encountered. Kiyo liked travelling, cooking, gardening, sewing, golfing, doing sports, playing piano and water-color painting. Appreciated and beloved by her kids, she was their sought-after travelling companion to such places as France, Peru, China, Bali, Tahiti, Honduras, Hawaii, New York and Southern California. She also got the chance to visit Japan and Israel. She loved to bring joy to others at church events and parties by cooking her favorite Japanese dishes, such as Inari Sushi, Shrimp Tempura, Sukiyaki and Teriyaki, or by helping with clean-up. The prolific apple tree in her Los Altos yard kept her busy every year making applesauce and baking apple pies for her family and friends. Kiyo enjoyed attending the Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Palo Alto and belonging to the Aldersgate women’s group. Some might consider yardwork as hard labor, but Kiyo’s large yard gave her endless opportunities to plant, beautify, prune, rake, weed and water her garden, constantly reawakening her childhood memories of the Modesto farms.

Kiyo was born on June 17, 1921 in Modesto, a large farming community in the central valley of California. Her father, Shinsaburo Togashi, born in Yamagata-Ken, Japan, migrated to the US and shortly thereafter in 1912 married her mother, Mitsue, also born in Yamagata-Ken. Together they migrated to Seattle, WA, before coming to Oakdale, CA then to Modesto.

Kiyo’s parents ran a boarding house and employment agency in Modesto where the farm laborers could come from Japan to do seasonal work for the farmers in Stanislaus County and Kiyo’s parents would provide them room and board and transportation to the work sites. Kiyo graduated from Modesto High School and Modesto Business College, taking the Secretarial course, which included training in bookkeeping, shorthand and stenotype. After December 7, 1941, Kiyo was living in Modesto so that she could be with her parents and siblings to be interned to the “relocation center” designated for the Modesto community. In late 1942 Kiyo and her girlfriends were able to leave “Camp” (the Amache Relocation Center) because they had found clerical billing jobs in Chicago. Later Kiyo was hired by the USG to work in the steno pool of the OPA in downtown Chicago. Kiyo was then promoted to the position of secretary to the Regional Price Administrator, a position that perfectly matched her business college training.

Kiyo and James had begun dating during their high school years and suddenly after “VE Day” the timing seemed right to get married. They drove to Colorado to pick up their mothers at “Camp” and they were married in Syracuse, Kansas on May 10, 1945, a marriage that spanned almost 70 years until James passed away in 2015. James and Kiyo had their first child Diane in Colorado in August 1946 which was 3 months before James returned from his US Army MIS deployment to Japan. James, Kiyo, and Diane moved from Colorado to Richmond, CA, then to San Francisco, Menlo Park and Los Altos. Shortly before moving to Menlo Park, James and Kiyo had identical twin girls Jeanne and Joanne. Then Judy was born, and then Jim was born. Beyond being the mother of 5, Kiyo began working full-time in the early 1960’s so that she could help pay for college for her 5 children. She worked 25 years at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company in Sunnyvale, CA and formally retired in the late 1980’s. When asked if she liked being a “career woman,” Kiyo said, “I really enjoyed it because that’s what I started out to be.”


The family hopes that an interment service at Alta Mesa Cemetery and a memorial service at Aldersgate Church can be planned for mid-August 2021 after COVID restrictions are lifted. Information will be posted when the details are confirmed.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of Kiyo Shizuru to Aldersgate United Methodist Church (AUMC), 4243 Manuela Avenue, Palo Alto, CA 94306. The Shizuru family appreciates the many AUMC ministries to the elderly, hospitalized and ailing in the local community as well as the AUMC global outreach and reconciling ministries.