Mary Kinoshita Higashi

Mary Kinoshita Higashi
August 10, 1922 – December 9, 2018

Mary Kinoshita Higashi passed away on Sunday, December 9, 2018 at the age of 96. She was born in Bakersfield, CA on August 10, 1922 to Tomoichi and Chiyoko Kinoshita and graduated from Bakersfield High School and Bakersfield College. She was interned in Poston, Arizona as a result of Executive Order 9066, which required all persons of Japanese descent in the western states, including American citizens, be placed in internment camps during World War II. There, she married Paul Masata Higashi of Terminal Island, on May 23, 1945. They had three children: Andrew, Paula and Elizabeth.

She worked for the State of California’s Employment Development Department in San Pedro and retired in 1981. She was also active in La Rambla Presbyterian Church for more than 50 years, as a Sunday school teacher, organist, Deacon and Elder. The church later merged with the First Presbyterian Church of San Pedro, where she served as a Deacon for the last six years.

Mary was active in planning Poston Reunions and a member of the Poston Community Alliance. She was one of four internees featured in the documentary, “Passing Poston”, which premiered in New York City and aired on 85 public television stations throughout the United States in 2010. She was often invited to speak of her personal experiences in the Poston internment camp with students in junior high schools, high schools and colleges, as well as church groups and Asian-American professional societies.

Mary is survived by her daughters, Paula A. Higashi (Fred Taugher) of Elk Grove and Elizabeth M. Higashi of Naples, FL; her brothers, Robert and Fred of Bakersfield; her grandson Christopher Higashi Morrow of Kildeer, IL; and numerous nieces and nephews, cousins, and extended family.

She was predeceased by her husband Paul and her son Andrew, and brothers George, Ben, John, Dave, and Ted Kinoshita.

The family is hosting a visitation on Saturday, December 15, from 11 AM to 1 PM at Green Hills Mortuary & Cemetery, 27501 S Western Avenue, Rancho Palos Verdes, followed by a graveside service. A celebration of her life will be held Sunday, December 16 at the First Presbyterian Church of San Pedro, located at 731 Averill Avenue in San Pedro at 1 PM.

In lieu of koden, memorial donations may be made to the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, the Poston Community Alliance, or the First Presbyterian Church of San Pedro operating fund.