February 11, 1918 — August 22, 2020
On Saturday, August 22, 2020, Chieko Kondo passed away at the age of 102 at her home in Gardena. She was preceded in death by her late husband Seishin A. Kondo and is survived by her two children, John (Donna) and S Michiko, her sister Edythe Miyo (Yoshio) Oshiro, nieces and nephews.
Chieko was born on February 11, 1918, in Honolulu, Hawaii to Seiichi and Use Nakama. At age 7 her parents and siblings went to Okinawa and after a short stay her father decided to leave Chieko in Okinawa to help her grandparents; the rest of the family returned to Hawaii. Chieko stayed and attended school away from her immediate family until age 13. Upon returning to Hawaii she began working as a domestic.
In the late 1930s Chieko began to work as a nanny for actress Jayne Shudder and husband Dr. Richard Durant caring for their 3 children. Because of the impending war she relocated with the family to Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
After the war she went to Washington DC to visit with a friend. During her return trip to Massachusetts soldiers boarded the train looking for Japanese. When confronted by the soldier she stood her ground stating she was an American and had the right to travel. The soldier backed off and let her continue her journey back to Great Barrington.
Not too long after returning to the Durants home she told the family she would be moving to Washington, DC. Unhappy with this news Mrs Durant told her she was not allowed to leave. Chieko produced a letter from the American Embassy stating she has no obligation to stay with the family. Upon reading the letter, Mrs. Durant exclaimed, “You’re a smart Jap aren’t you!”
Chieko moved to Washington, DC and worked at the Library of Congress. She eventually received her GED in 1972 and worked at the Defense Mapping Agency for 16 years.
Due to the ongoing pandemic a celebration of life will occur at its conclusion in Honolulu, Hawaii and her ashes will be placed at Nuuanu Memorial Cemetery.