Mary U. Toma
1928 – 2019
Mary Toyoko Usui Toma died on July 21. She was 91.
She was the seventh of nine children of immigrants Otojiro and Kiyono Usui. The family was uprooted in 1942 from their farm in Oregon and imprisoned in ‘internment’ camps that also held over 110,000 other Japanese Americans. On scholarship, Mary got her degree from the University of Dubuque. After the war, her family relocated to Salt Lake City. There, Mary met Ronnie Toma, and sharing a love for ballroom dancing, they got married in 1950. They moved to Los Angeles in the 1950s and started a family. Mary worked as a “med tech” at Children’s Hospital L.A. for decades, while raising their five children and eight grandchildren in L.A.’s Silver Lake area. The family joined Centenary United Methodist Church and often sang in the choir. Mary volunteered for the PTA/PTSA throughout her life, serving as President at the schools her children attended, and of the regional Tenth District.
With her smile, grace, soft-spoken strength and determination, she tirelessly gave her children and other children the opportunities she didn’t have growing up. She was proud to be honored by the L.A. City Council as a Woman Pioneer, and by Dubuque Univ. as Alumni of the Year. In 2009, Mary’s active life was slowed by a stroke, followed by other health crises.
Eternally grateful for her are children Dana, Robin, April, Heather Carr and Heidi Schmiedeke; grandchildren Graham Toma; Alec and Kylie Schmiedeke; Nina and Julian Suh-Toma; Isabelle, William, and Eric Carr; her siblings Frank (and Susie) Usui, Terry (and Roy) Nakawatase, Jim (and Nancy) Usui, and her many dear in-laws, nieces and nephews, friends and extended family.
Memorial service: Fri., Aug. 9, 11 am at Centenary United Methodist (Little Tokyo, 213-617-9097);
reception to follow. Burial service: Aug. 10, 9:30 am, Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills (800) 204-3131.