Kimiko Umemoto Kishi
Jan. 2, 1922–Feb. 3, 2021
Kimiko Umemoto Kishi passed away peacefully at her daughter’s home in Orinda, California, on February 3, 2021, at the age of 99.
Kimi was born in Los Angeles, California, the second of four children of immigrant parents Manzaburo Umemoto and Nuino (Takimoto) Umemoto, from Wakayama, Japan. Kimi graduated from John Marshall High School and was completing business and secretarial classes at Los Angeles City College when World War II broke out and the U.S. government illegally incarcerated all people of Japanese ancestry residing on the West Coast. Kimi was detained with her family, first at the Pomona Assembly Center on the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds and then at the Heart Mountain internment camp in Wyoming. Although she was forced to leave school before completing her college education, Kimi used her secretarial skills as an assistant to the block manager at Heart Mountain and, after leaving camp, as an assistant secretary at a Presbyterian church in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
While in Minneapolis, Kimi met her future husband, Fred Kishi, who was attending the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Service Language Training School at Fort Snelling. They married in 1945, shortly before Fred was sent to Japan as part of the U.S. military occupation forces. After his return, the couple settled in Fred’s hometown of Livingston, California, where Fred and his brother Sherman built a successful farming business and became prominent community leaders.
Kimi and Fred raised four daughters on the farm and played active roles in the local community. They both enjoyed playing and watching sports. Despite Fred’s loyalty to the SF Giants, Kimi always rooted for the LA Dodgers, and later in life, she faithfully supported the many sports teams of her six grandchildren.
Kimi was active in church activities and enjoyed quilting, playing bridge, and traveling. She and Fred traveled to school board conventions and sweet potato growers’ conferences across the United States. Kimi also visited Japan several times and traveled to Central America and Europe. She proudly attended her grandchildren’s college graduations from coast to coast. And in February 2017, shortly after her 95th birthday, Kimi herself was awarded an honorary Associate of Arts degree in Liberal Studies by the Los Angeles Community College Board of Trustees.
Kimi’s family wishes to express their gratitude to the staff at J-SEI Home, a non-profit Japanese residential care home in Hayward, for their kind and attentive care of Kimi since 2018. In her final years, Kimi lost her sight and short-term memory, but she never lost her kind-heartedness, love of dessert, and surprisingly dry sense of humor.
Kimi is predeceased by husband Fred Kishi, brothers Masaru Umemoto and Kazuo Umemoto, and sister Kiyoko Takeguma.
She is survived by daughters Susan Kishi (David Schuricht), Ruth Ann Kishi (Michael Woodring), Patti Kishi (Robert Chad), and Jan Kehoe (Brian Kehoe); grandchildren Keith Schuricht (Christine Schuricht), Sachi Schuricht, Elise Chad, Takeo Kishi (Cara O’Shell), Megan Kehoe, and Brent Kehoe; great-grandsons River Schuricht, Linden Schuricht, and Kosei Kishi; and many nieces and nephews.
No public memorial service is planned at this time. Donations in memory of Kimi may be made to Livingston United Methodist Church, 11695 Olive Avenue, Livingston, CA 95334; UC Berkeley Foundation, 1995 University Ave., Suite 401, Berkeley, CA 94704-1058, Note: Fund #W8805 (46805) – Kishi Family Endowment for Japanese American Studies; or Japanese American National Museum, 100 N. Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012.