Dr. Warren Furumoto
December 1934 — January 5, 2021
Dr. Warren Akira Furumoto, 86, of the San Fernando Valley, Calif. and Honolulu, Hawai’i passed away on January 5, 2021 of COVID-19.
Warren was born in December 1934 to Kitaru and Shizuko Furumoto in Honolulu, Hawai’i. He was seven years old when the Empire of Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and lived his formative years during WWII in Hawai’i. During high school, he worked in the Dole pineapple cannery factory in the summers. After graduating from Saint Louis School in 1953, he attended college at CalTech in Pasadena, where he completed his BS in Biological Sciences in 1957. He went on to pursue graduate studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, and earned his Ph.D. in Botanical Sciences in 1960 at the age of 26.
After graduate school, Warren began a long academic career by teaching for a year at the University of Chicago. In 1962 he then accepted a position on the faculty of the Biology department at San Fernando Valley State College, which would later be named California State University, Northridge (CSUN). Over his 45-year career at CSUN he was a professor of Biology, chair of the Biology department, associate vice president of Academic Services, and also served as director of the CSUN College of Science and Mathematics Center for Academic Preparedness.
Warren was deeply committed to social justice, racial equity, and serving the community throughout his career at CSU Northridge and well into retirement. During the 1960’s and 1970’s he was active in the anti-Vietnam War Movement serving as faculty advisor to the CSUN chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) as well as local anti-war committees. During the “War on Poverty” era he founded and served as director of the first Head Start Program in the San Fernando Valley. His heart was always with the poor and oppressed. He was especially proud of his work in the “Unity Workshop” in the Pacoima and San Fernando community where he developed programs for youth who were at-risk, gang affiliated and from probation camps. Warren was one of the founders of the CSUN Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and advocated for the establishment of the Chicana/o Studies and Asian American Studies Departments at CSUN. He also organized and advocated to increase the numbers of African American, Chicana/o, Central American, Native American and Asian American students at CSUN. As associate vice president of Academic Services he used several National Science Foundation grants to educate teachers in the use of the state-approved “Access to Algebra” curriculum. After retirement, he continued to work on various community-based projects in the San Fernando area. He served as the director of the Sylmar area “Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) whose purpose was to prepare middle school students for high academic achievement and college going. He also worked with CSUN students and community volunteers to establish community gardens in the area and in local schools and homes. Warren was a generous person who believed strongly in having “Aloha” spirit and dedicated much of his life to the principle of “Serve the People.”
The people, music and culture of Hawai’i were always close to Warren’s heart as well. He also liked the ocean waves of Hawai’i and enjoyed body board surfing. He went surfing regularly until he was well into his seventies.
In 1973, Warren married Rosa Rivera, whom he had met through doing community-based work in the San Fernando Valley. They made their home in Sylmar, California, and had two children, Kim and Li’i. In his retirement he spent much time with his daughter, Li’i and son-in-law, German and especially loved his two grandchildren, Akira and Ahadiyya. He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in 2017 and after his diagnosis lived much of his final days at Nikkei Senior Gardens in Arleta. He tested positive for COVID-19 on Christmas Eve 2020 and passed away on January 5, 2021.
Warren was predeceased by his parents, Shizuko and Kitaru, and his siblings, Sadamu, Horace and Elaine. He is survived by his sister, Grace; numerous nieces and nephews; as well as his former spouse Rosa; and their eldest daughter Kim; and youngest daughter Li’i; his son-in-law German; and his two grandchildren, Akira and Ahadiyya.
Memorial services in honor of Dr. Warren Akira Furumoto will be held on Monday, June 14, 2021 at 11am at Fukui Mortuary, 707 E. Temple St. Los Angeles, CA 90012. Rev. Ryuta Furumoto of Senshin Temple presiding.
We are in process of developing an on-line/ virtual option for the funeral. Please email to text Li’i for more information ([email protected] and 818-668-4520 cell) if you would like information on the virtual memorial service.
In lieu of flowers, money or Koden the family asks for donations to the made to Urban Visionaries non-profit, which will host a scholarship program for low-income students in honor of Warren.
Donations can be made via:
Check: Checks can be made to out to Urban Visionaries & mailed to Urban Visionaries c/o Li’i Furumoto 12727 Gladstone Ave. Sylmar, CA 91342. Please put in notes section in Honor of Dr. Warren Furumoto. Donations are tax-deductible and a tax deduction letter will be mailed to you so please include a mailing address.