In Memoriam: John and Roz Enomoto

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A husband and wife who were active in the Bay Area Japanese American community passed away during the past year — John Takeo Enomoto, 88, on Aug. 16, and Roz Barako (Uyeda) Enomoto, 88, on Oct. 15, in Rockville, Md. after 67 years of marriage. They were longtime residents of Woodside.

John and Roz Enomoto

Roz was born in Watsonville in 1929. During World War II, the Uyeda family was relocated from San Francisco to Topaz, the U.S. wartime concentration camp in the Utah desert. Her personal experience of xenophobia shaped Roz as much as her formal education at UC Berkeley and later at the College of Notre Dame, where she earned her bachelor’s degree at age 50.

Known for her sharp wit and elegant style, Roz was an engaging conversationalist who loved to make people laugh. One of 13 children, she was proud to be an “Uyeda Sister,” and often told stories of their youthful adventures together.

Committed to positive social change, she served on San Mateo’s Commission on Aging and Civil Grand Jury, and volunteered for candidates she supported for public office. For 25 years, she was director of the San Mateo Japanese American Community Center, where she developed outreach programs and community activities with special attention to the needs of senior citizens.

John was born in San Francisco in 1928. In 1942, his father was imprisoned by the FBI (no charges were ever filed) and his mother and brother moved the family to Denver. When the war ended, Roz and John became sweethearts at Lowell High School in San Francisco and married in 1949.

After attending UC Berkeley, John joined the family business, Enomoto & Co., to develop the horticultural supplies division. He had a passion for Asian art, culture, and history, relishing his time at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, where, for many years, he served as a docent.

John was active in the Japanese American Citizens League and enjoyed skiing, jazz, wine, action movies, sports cars and, in his later years, weekly bridge games. With a passion for travel and world cultures, his favorite job was working for the U.S. Information Agency, where he accompanied journalists, scientists, and teachers from all over the world, to experience life and culture in the U.S.

John appreciated Roz’s honesty, humor, and intellect. Roz appreciated John’s sophistication, kindness, and handsome looks (she said this frequently). Their family said it was a blessing to witness the true adoration and dedication they shared until the very end of their lives.

They are survived by six children, 12 grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren. John is survived by his sister Edie Watanabe. Roz is survived by her sisters Doris Tono, Daisy Satoda, Nancee Iketani, Elsie Chung and Juneko Sugihara.

Donations in their honor may be made to the Japanese Benevolent Society of California/Jikeikai, 1765 Sutter St., San Francisco, CA 94115, (415) 771-3440.

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