Sue Hayashi, Community Activist and Volunteer, Dies at 95

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WALNUT CREEK — Sue Sumiko Hayashi passed away peacefully on May 5. She was 95 years old.

She was born Sumiko Yoshino in Alameda to Yoshimatsu and Mitsue Yoshino on Feb. 16, 1919. One of 11 children, she is survived by her sister Aiko Yamamoto, her sons Marc Hayashi and Eric Hayashi, daughter-in-law Sharon Fees, and two grandsons, Aaron and Bryce. She is also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.

Sue Hayashi

Sue Hayashi

Hayashi attended Alameda schools, graduating from Alameda High School before World War II.

She married Yukio Hayashi in 1942 and they were together until his passing in 2000.

They were interned at the Poston concentration camp in Yuma County, Ariz., and later at the Topaz concentration camp in Millard County, Utah for the majority of the war.

They were then sponsored by the American Friends Service Committee and the Chicago Federation of Churches and were resettled in Chicago, where they worked as domestic servants for retired silent movie star Colleen Moore, her husband at the time, Homer Hargrave, and their family. While in Chicago, Yukio pursued his college degree and they both became active in the Chicago chapter of the JACL.

They relocated their family back to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1957 to be closer to family and pursue careers.

Sue Hayashi attained a life-long dream of going to college, attending part-time for 12 years at San Francisco State University and earning a BA degree and then an MSW with a focus on counseling. She worked as a counselor at SFSU for 15 years until her retirement in 1985.

Shaped by the forces that affected her as a young adult, Hayashi was an early moral supporter of SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee) and CORE (Congress of Racial Equality), and was active in what became International Women for Peace in the Bay Area.

She was an early advocate for Asian American/ethnic studies and issues, and an outspoken advocate for redress for Japanese Americans who were interned. She and her husband were also active volunteers and supporters of Asian American Theater Company from its 1973 founding in San Francisco.

After becoming widowed, Hayashi moved from San Francisco to Walnut Creek in 2003 to be closer to her grandchildren. She will always be remembered by family and friends for her amiable demeanor and thoughtful advice on many topics. She was an inspiration to many students, family, and friends.

The family is grateful to her two primary caregivers at the end of her life, Susan and Edwin de Jesus, her hospice nurses, Tammy Hatcher and Amy Brown, and the Hospice of the East Bay’s human and pet volunteers.

Memorial donations can be made to her charity, the Southern Poverty Law Center, by writing to 400 Washington Ave., Montgomery, AL 36104, calling (334) 956-8200 or going online to www.splcenter.org.

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