Thomas Osamu Nakashima
February 6, 1927 ~ May 19, 2020
Tom was born in Cressey, California to John Kohei and Ayako Nakashima and passed away May 19, 2020 at the age of 93 of natural causes. Tom was a proud lifetime farmer and resident of Livingston. He was a man of inner strength and integrity who treated everyone with respect.
Tom attended Livingston schools until 1942 when he was incarcerated with his family at the Merced Assembly Center and the Amache Internment Camp in Colorado due to Executive Order 9066 – which removed persons of Japanese ancestry away from the West Coast during WWII. He was appreciative of his teachers at Amache, especially Mrs. Kathy Odom who continued to stay in touch with Tom and her students after leaving camp. He left Amache to work on a farm in Baxter, Iowa, but contracted polio and was nursed back to health by the Quakers using the Sister Kenney method. He felt a debt of gratitude to the Quakers for their care during his hospitalization.
Tom returned to Livingston in 1945 then attended UC Davis to study agriculture. Upon graduating he came back to Livingston and began a farming career that included growing grapes, organic almonds, sweet potatoes, compost and peaches. He met his wife Caroline Matsuyama at a church outing and the two were married in 1951. He remained active in the Livingston Methodist Church throughout his life.
Tom was an active member in the community and was a Livingston Lions Charter member since 1958; and was honored as a Melvin Jones Fellow in 2016. He served on the Livingston Elementary School Board, and was a long-time member of the Livingston Farmers Association and the Japanese American Citizens League. Tom was later part of a speakers group that toured schools and colleges around Merced and Stanislaus counties and recounted stories of the hardships and injustices that American citizens of Japanese descent endured during internment. He also spoke about the internment at his grandchildren’s schools in the Bay Area.
He enjoyed welcoming people to the farm. Whether it be exchange students, relatives or friends he always had time to show them around and share his passion for organic and sustainable farming. Seeing his grandchildren flourish was another joy for Tom. Together with Caroline they would support their endeavors including watching softball or basketball games, attending plays and concerts, or growing corn with his grandsons
He is survived by his wife of 69 years; children Jill Nakashima (Dennis Shea), Stuart (Ann) Nakashima, Dawn Nakashima (Jonathan Newman) and Beverly Nakashima; sister Ida Nakashima Schneck of Denver, Colorado and grandchildren Taylor, Zachary, Mari, Leah, Charlie, Andrew and Aya . He was preceded in death by his parents and his brother Tyler Nakashima.
Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, a private burial was held at Winton Cemetery. A celebration of Tom’s life will be held at a later date.
Memorial contributions can be made in Tom’s memory to Livingston United Methodist Church or the Livingston Lions Club.